Brand Messages that Spark Sales: Why Authenticity is More Important Than Ever

As pandemic patience wanes, consumers are getting restless.

Many people are ready to get back to “real life,” to return to a routine, go on vacation, or be less conservative in their spending. This means this is a great season to kickstart a new marketing campaign!

Striking the right tone can be a challenge. Are you looking for relevance and timely messaging? In this sensitive cultural moment, it can be hard to say just the right thing. But bland clichés don’t sell products. Today, many brands are tempted to offer platitudes centered around themes of unity, healing, and getting along. Businesses are falling over themselves as they promise to be “here for you,” or remind us that, “in these uncertain times, we care about your needs.”

Skip the Platitudes

There is a better alternative, and it starts with authenticity.

Authentic marketing means the heart of your business connects directly and deeply to the core of your audience. It’s now time to stop hiding behind cheesy messages about how we’re “all in this together.” Instead, be bold and straightforward about matching the products you offer with the needs people have.

Today’s consumers can smell artificial ads a mile away, and it is a major turnoff. According to one survey, 84 percent of millennials stated that they don’t like advertising, and the increasingly fake tone of today’s campaigns certainly won’t help. When you want to inspire action, start with your own unique brand voice, and build messages that inspire action.

What might that look like? Rick Maynard, senior manager of public relations for Kentucky Fried Chicken, explains the authenticity of KFC’s brand voice like this:

“KFC’s social purpose is to celebrate ‘real.’ To us, being real means being honest, inclusive, boldly unapologetic, refreshingly to the point, insightful and occasionally, a little edgy. We steer clear of being artificial, judgmental, insecure, full of hot air, timid or gimmicky. We try to celebrate our real fans, engage in real talk and encourage real consumer-generated content. We prefer ‘man on the street’ images over staged food shots. That’s what being authentic means to our brand. And the great thing about being real is it’s also really easy. It’s much more difficult to try to be something you’re not.”

To avoid a hollow, insincere tone, be as conversational as possible. This may be friendly, direct or daring, but it dials down on what you have to offer and why someone should respond.

Activate Consumer Instincts

What will drive people’s instincts to spend, make purchases that they’ve put on hold, and resume more normal customer behavior patterns? And how can you trigger those instincts?

First, your advertising should validate consumers’ need for preservation. Reflect an understanding of their natural desire to feel safe – like a prevention focus.

A Prevention Focus frames marketing messages around the problems a product can avert. Prevention themes are excellent for identifying problems and advocating for safety, personal health, long-term solvency, crisis aversion, etc. 

Authentic advertising should also help edge consumers more toward the perseverance or benefit side – like a gain focus.

A Gain Focus frames marketing messages around the benefits a product can provide. Benefit/gain themes are essential for brands selling security, reliability, peace, and comfort.

Reboot Your Image

Most consumers believe that most brands are not creating authentic content that meets them where they are at.

If you want to restart your sales engine, focus on what marketing can do best: reach people’s innermost mental processes and trigger their instincts to buy. Use a genuine voice, connect with your customers’ benefit or prevention needs, and get straight to the point.

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