The new language of anti-authenticity

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RXBar's no BS packaging.
RXBar's no BS packaging.

"Authentic" has become so overused in the brand vernacular, perhaps it's time to consider a counter-position, writes the CEO of CreativeFeed

From Detroit to Brooklyn, Austin to Mill Valley and even Paris, you will experience (or over-experience) the hipster revival, where words like "heritage," "provenance," "curated," "artisanal" and "authentic" are grossly overused.

The notion of "authentic" no longer resonates with me, and it probably doesn’t with most of the other jaded urban consumers who associate it with insincerity and cash grabbing. Maybe it is time to consider the language of anti-authenticity.

Anti-authentic doesn’t mean that brands should disown authenticity altogether. Instead of talking about it, brands should focus on creating more realistic propositions and making those qualities implicit to the consumer. The new language of anti-authenticity means bringing the brand experience front and center, much like the RXBar’s no BS packaging.

Show, don’t tell — or better yet, do, don’t tell.

We know it is not all about the packaging and the language used in self-promotion. Let’s take, for example, Mast Brothers Chocolate and the scandal that shook its business in 2015. The brand’s success was mainly credited to the authentic bean-to-bar language it used, however, when the product did not support the claims, it became largely associated with insincerity.

As this kind of distrust and scrutiny becomes more common, claims of authenticity won’t work. However, you can show authenticity. Two other chocolate brands have done that well using transparency. Jacques Torres’ factory invites consumers inside the production process, and Maison du Chocolat lets people experience the craft with chocolate-making classes. It’s about letting people experience the brand.

And, naturally, people will share. Brand experiences are becoming all the more important because people are increasingly looking for opportunities to craft unique stories to share on social media. The more distinctive the experience, the better it is for sharing. Think about coffee; it’s one of the most popular topics on the Internet. Everyone posts about coffee but no longer just photos of the ubiquitous Starbucks cup.

People are talking about the "artisanal coffee" experience. It’s the beautiful latte art, indie decor, local charitable initiatives, cat sanctuary zones, dog companionships … The more the experience aligns with your brand, the more authentic the brand is perceived to be. Imagine what the Starbucks experience will look like when opens its mega Roastery in New York in a couple of years.

People seek out brands with visions aligned with their aspirations and interests. That’s what resonates on a deeper level. Embrace your ethos, and the right people will show up to support you.

Maybe McDonald’s should give it a try. Instead of offering an "artisanal chicken sandwich" and trying to be something that it’s not, McDonald’s should probably just call it like it is, a late night, stressful day or drunken guilty pleasure.

Arthur Ceria is the CEO and founder of CreativeFeed, a creative, digital, PR agency based in New York, Paris and San Francisco.


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