Not so long ago marketing was all about creating great brand awareness and then the sales would follow. But in a digital first, post-pandemic world, smart businesses are moving beyond the brand and allowing you and your people to be front and centre.
So, in this article I’m going to be exploring one of the big shifts when it comes to marketing and business today, and that’s a shift towards authenticity, one that’s been steadily progressing over the last few years but thanks to significant global and local events throughout 2020 and 2021 – brands that want to stay relevant in 2022 will need to do a values-based reality check. How well do your brand’s actions reflect your stated values or mission? Does your marketing align with what you say you care about? How are you genuinely communicating your values and ‘true self’ as a company to your target audience?
The companies that are crushing it are those that realise that their brand needs to be more “human”.
It’s no surprise that customers want to connect with real people, because ultimately, it is the people who make a brand what it is. But not only that, it’s pretty basic psychology that people connect with people and ideals faster than with a faceless brand.
In response to this, we’re seeing more and more savvy brands encouraging development of what is often called personal brands. It is about allowing a genuine voice in the marketplace created by the real people who make your brand what it is. It’s about encouraging individuals to generate a fusion of branded content designed to have a lasting impact. All the while not hiding who those individuals are. Allowing them to put their names to the content they create and interact with the engagement that it stimulates.
It can feel a bit risky for a business, sure I get that, but I want to outline three reasons why the risks are low.
Firstly, if you and your people know who you are as a brand, then they’ll know the boundaries when it comes to creating content and engaging.
This means knowing more than what you do as a brand. And going beyond Simon Sinek’s focus on the “why” of your brand. It also means being clear on the core values and personality of your brand. It is the combination of all these things that will enable you, and any others who might be representing the brand, to know the boundaries of where your brand is to be positioned. When everyone creating content for the brand shares these values and personality, the risks are low.
Secondly, content associated with its author is highly valuable when it comes to search and engagement.
As people generate content and attract followers across their social platforms, they start to feature more prominently in search results. They are hitting on Google’s Expertise Authority and Trust triggers, which I talk about in this video
Essentially Google’s algorithm sees them as a trusted expert, and the flow on from this as they are linked with your business, is that the business also benefits from their growing position as an expert in their area. Even if they leave your business, the content they have created whilst being associated with your brand will continue to exist and be valuable. So, if their profile grows even higher, then there will be a residual connection as new followers will often engage with older content previously created by that person.
Lastly, as it’s all about the person, a serious failure on their part does not by necessity have a direct connection to a failure by your brand.
So, for example, if one of your brand’s people has a brain fade and tweets out something that causes a storm, people usually see this as their failure, not the brand’s.
How you respond as the brand is significant of course. Particularly as this will show the character of your brand. So be mindful that swinging the axe in all instances may not be the way to go. The thing is that people do have an innate ability to forgive when mistakes are acknowledged quickly, retractions are made, and there is a demonstrated willingness to learn from the experience.
Being known as a brand that employs socially engaged experts has far more potential for generating strong emotional connections with customers than just being any old brand with a web presence.
Video marketing is where this style of personal brand building content really shines. So, develop a strategy within your organisation which sees multiple people behind your brand providing the opportunity to bring their expertise to your audience through video content.
Don’t restrict your content marketing efforts to only feature the CEO or Founder. Allow your team to shine, and build their own brand alongside yours. And then watch what happens next…
Are you supporting your people to contribute to your video marketing? Let me know in the comments what’s working for you?