To quote one of my favourite authors, Brene Brown, “human beings are wired for connection”. Whilst economists might not agree, science has proven otherwise as per this article by Scientific American.

Brown’s theory is that the reason people engage with casino’s, fashion, digital devices, social media, people, services and brands is that they are seeking connection. We’re all looking to be heard and to feel we belong in some way or another; our means may differ but essentially we’re looking to be part of something greater than ourselves as per this talk by David Isay Everyone has a story the world needs to hear”

What psychologists have understood for decades is that connection is created by two things; authenticity and trust. Have you ever forgiven someone because they’ve owned up to the truth about something or have been forgiven because you’ve had the courage to own up to something? People are more likely to engage and forgive when someone tells the truth because at some level we recognise that we are flawed but being real about who we are and owning what we’ve done is, ironically, likely to create a sense of trust.

So why should engaging with a brand be any different from engaging with a person? What psychologists, and more recently scientists understand about connection, we as marketers and communications professionals need to learn to apply; not just in terms of brand messaging but we need to consider but also construction and tone of a brand message, and even the message platform itself. In essence it comes all the way back to the brand personality and values.

Consider an example albeit a radical and ridiculous one; Rolex adopting a new approach to social media and Tweeting something like “Rocking @Wilmbedon today, let’s get this game on”. As a Rolex brand lover or admirer, you’d probably be confused as it’s not what you’d expect from the brand, it’s not authentic and authenticity is key to creating trust.

And trust is what leads to mutually beneficial, sustainable relationships.

It’s important to consider because I think as communications professionals we’re prone to trying out new and exciting ideas and platforms and that’s great but we need to keep it real. I’m all for disruption and innovation thinking but unless it’s relevant and authentic it’s going nowhere so next time you’re drafting a new strategy or campaign I’d compile a checklist to keep to before initiating. For example;

  • What are we trying to achieve here?
  • Does the message, tone, platform and context fit with our values, personality and tone?
  • Does the initiative we’re trying fit with what we’re trying to achieve on a strategic level?

And MOST IMPORTANTLY;

  • How would I feel if I were on the receiving end of this message?

It’s not about telling people, it’s about putting yourself in the situation of the other to see if you’d feel that the message was authentic and true because this is what creates brands who not only survive but thrive in dynamic times.