We live in a world of infinite choice. Today’s consumers increasingly expect transparency and authenticity from the brands they follow. Just look at the fallout experienced by Facebook who’s meteoric rise has been rocked by a year of data scandals. Brands who mislead are easily found out and held accountable, but an honest brand can surge ahead of their competition by telling their truth.

Honest marketing for small businesses.

Marketing should be baked right into your business from the onset, and it might as well be raw, truthful, and relatable. Blind allegiance to the mega brands is on the wane as consumers seek unique and intimate experiences from their purchases. The adoption of a brand is increasingly a matter of self expression. When the competition is fierce and similar, an honest brand story can help your business stand out.

Small and relatable is good.

Small businesses are better positioned to deliver an honesty and authentic story than their larger rivals. The upstart or small dog is far more relatable than the corporate behemoth because their story mirrors that of their audience ie: “we’re trying to do the best we can, just like you.” Consumers don’t emotionally identify with the big brands any more due to their ubiquity, which leaves an opportunity for small players to tell a relatable story. That story in turn can activate their audience by reinforcing their values, which builds brand allegiance and sales.

Starbucks or the local boutique?

Big brands are desperately trying to break out of a conformity box to look and feel local. Starbucks in recent years has rebranded some of its stores as high-end coffee boutiques to compete for millenial dollars that prefer boutique coffee experiences. But, aside from the attractive branding and moody decor, the new Starbucks Reserve is largely the same product found in any of their other locations. The big brands tend to be commoditized to scale a similar experience across many stores, and if you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all. These experiences are now perceived as inauthentic and even boring. It’s the locally owned, grassroots, one-of-a-kind businesses that can tell a believable, honest and authentic brand story. And it’s these businesses that are set to thrive.

Rules for baking an honest brand story into your business.

  1. Tell the truth. Consumers can smell an inauthentic story from a mile away.
  2. Mine your startup journey for relatable story nuggets, and then share them.
  3. Talk about your process.
  4. Orient your business towards a mission.
  5. Talk about the wins and failures that went into building your business.

Engage in your local community.

  1. Orient your business model towards environmental or civic stewardship.
  2. Empower your employees to volunteer.
  3. Highlight the personal journeys of your employees.
  4. Engage in community building.
  5. Sponsor a local festival or event.

Wrapping up.

An honest brand is one that is relatable and authentic. Just tell your truth and allow that story to excite and activate your audience. Go a step further and get active in your community. Your audience adopts brands that reflect their values, and you can’t go wrong by working towards a mission that serves others – even one that is for profit. Ubiquitous brands are difficult to relate to, and thus unlikely to build a psyched following. Be the opposite of large and ubiquitous to build a psyched fanbase.

Take action

Let’s chat about your business and branding objectives. Book a consultation with me.

This post is part of “Your Best 2019” guidebook presented by qwerkal.