Brand Sincerity

Have you ever experienced a product or service which didn’t live it up to its own hype…?

I’ll bet you have.  As marketing has grown as a profession, so too has the ability of marketers to hype their Brands with unrealistic claims and extravagant promotions.   And when companies choose to focus on creating great advertising instead of great product experiences, customers will inevitably be the casualties.

Over-promising and under-delivering can be a seductive short-term marketing strategy.  In fact, it’s often cheaper and easier to create hype, than products with genuine substance.

However, it’s a short-sighted approach which never creates Brands with enduring value.  There’s truth in the old adage that customers, “once bitten” are  “twice shy”.  And so it is that companies built on hype and rhetoric may enjoy initial success, but frequently struggle to retain customers and remain successful medium-term.

The core issue is Brand Sincerity.

We live in an era of ample choice, intense competition, and customers who are increasingly savvy about product claims and promotions.  Too often burned by over-promise and under-delivery, customers are turning to those Brands which are sincere in living up to their claims.

Brand Sincerity requires genuine commitment from across the company.  It starts with the creation of products which solve a genuine need, and it extends through quality of manufacture, marketing which accurately promotes product benefits, and bona fide commitment to excellent post-sale service.

Companies with with high Brand Sincerity believe in their products.  They “walk the talk” in pursuit of providing genuine customer satisfaction.  Their integrity shines through, not only in their promotion of their Brand, but also in their day to day actions and commercial decisions.

And, when they stumble – perhaps with manufacturing or supplier issues, recalls and the like – they go the extra mile to ensure that their customers’ needs continue to be met.

Brand Sincerity provides significant commercial pay-offs to those companies which practice it…

  • People reward sincerity with loyalty.  Loyal customers purchase, and willingly provide a larger share of their spending.
  • Customers share their Brand experiences – sincere or insincere – with colleagues, acquaintances and (in the age of social networking) with complete strangers.   Referred recommendations and warnings are now a key driver of purchasing behaviour across the market.
  • A study by Australian consultancy Principals showed that, the higher the sincerity* of a Brand, the higher its share of high-value customers.

When you add to those all the other commercial benefits of a strong Brand, the case for Brand Sincerity is clearly made.

Finally, does Brand Sincerity require an absence of marketing communications hype…?

No!   Being accurate about product claims doesn’t require dull marketing communications.   Promotions should always seize customers’ attention, and communicate with imagination.

In fact, when pre-sale hype and rhetoric is matched by the post-sale product experience, it adds to customer satisfaction and repeat purchase.

* Principals call Brand Sincerity “Brand Authenticity”… essentially the same concept, though they add to their definition other considerations, including originality, familiarity, momentum and heritage.

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