Increasingly driving consumer decision-making, trust sits at the core of engagement, retention and advocacy. Yet statements and promises are no longer enough – marketers need to back up any messaging with meaningful action. Rationale’s 8-point Authenticity Action Plan outlines how you can align business practice with brand purpose.
Authenticity is key to establishing a brand narrative which resonates and builds brand trust. To ensure purpose messaging is not only aligned to the values of your audience, but also evidenced – marketing should seek to align with other stakeholders within an organisation such as HR, DEI, and the C-suite.
Rationale’s 8 point Authenticity Action Plan is our guide to establishing a brand purpose that will stand up to scrutiny – and ultimately gain and sustain trust from your employees and customers.
- Identify key stakeholders and get them on board – these people will be your purpose champions across an organisation, those who are perhaps already banging the purpose drum and running values-driven initiatives. They will have information and ideas about what your brand can already demonstrate and where there is work to be done. They can also help in engaging your wider organisation – a C-suite stakeholder is particularly important, to drive and promote purpose from the top.
- Form a taskforce – with your purpose champions, create a positive, engaged and energetic team and get them together regularly to examine – honestly and transparently – where your organisation is making a societal impact now, what its values are and, critically, identify where you want to be in the future and the gaps which need to be filled to achieve this aim.
- Set objectives and goals – what do your customers and employees say about your brand now? What do you want them to say about your brand in the future? What dials do you want to shift? What is the impact you want to make? And…
- … measure your progress – set clear and measurable objectives to keep track of your performance – so you can respond and adjust the strategy against success and shortfalls. Identifying and keeping track of hard measures is vital to show what’s been achieved and in making ongoing cases for starting and sustaining initiatives.
- Examine the proof-points – so you think you’ve identified what your brand stands for? Start to map the evidence for this against each purpose-point to ensure this is actually the case in reality. Is there a hole underneath your purpose where your actual business practices should be? If so, how will you seek to address it in your action plan?
- Ask your audience – you might be certain that you’re on the right path to an engaging purpose which makes sense for your organisation and your customers, but you must ask them to validate these assumptions. Don’t mark your own homework and don’t be too proud to pivot.
- Ensure momentum isn’t lost – assigning actions against deliverables and checking in regularly on progress will maintain momentum as other priorities begin to dominate – as they always do.
- Engage an agency partner to support – draw on expertise in running and facilitating sessions, gathering and playing back information, making recommendations for quick-wins and longer-burn initiatives, building out strategy, conducting validation interviews, embedding outcomes – and ultimately communicating your actions and initiatives in internal and external campaigns. The right partner will provide a neutral point-of-view, stimulate debate, drive you to aim higher, and challenge your assumptions.
Make a difference
If your purpose is at all superficial, self-serving or insincere you risk being seen as virtue signalling, or demonstrating performative allyship. To win trust, it’s all about the authenticity. Trust is formed when your marketing is backed up with action. If you identify something your brand can stand for that drives your business as much as it makes a difference to people, then you’ll not only survive, but thrive.
And, of course, being authentic doesn’t mean shouting about your successes simply for business gain. The private sector now has the opportunity to make a genuine difference – to contribute to a more inclusive, positive and resilient society. Be accountable, be proactive and be transparent about how you mean to go about this, and everyone wins.