The shift in the zeitgeist from ‘perfectionism’ to ‘authenticity’ is in full swing. The world of heavily curated Facebook personas, idyllic Instagram feeds, aisles of flawless fruit and veg and photoshopped…well everything, is becoming a thing of the past.
Vulnerability is en vogue and embracing one’s imperfections is considered the source of a richer life. Just look at Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability (with its almost 25 million views), or her book Daring Greatly – how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live. Since its release, it has spent over 48 weeks on the New York Times’ bestseller list.
In the mainstream, we have seen Aldi launch the ‘wonky veg’ box, with both ASDA and Tesco following suit and new businesses like Deciem – The Abnormal Beauty Company, developing a brand name that directly leverages this trend.
So what does this mean for brand development moving forward? With functional needs now greatly met, the 21st Century has seen identity evolve as the tie-breaker in decision making. More specifically, brands that have effectively allowed consumers to express their identity to themselves and those around them have proved to be successful.
During the the ‘perfectionist’ era, it was very common for brands to connect with consumers’ via an aspirational identity route – the me I want to be – stronger, faster, healthier, wealthier, more attractive etc. Looks at Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ or L’Oréal’s ‘Because I’m worth it’.
These days, with the emphasis on authenticity, we are seeing brands dig deeper, going beyond the obvious and creating a more intimate relationship with consumers by aligning with more latent, yet very ‘real’ facets of their identity. Brands like Haribo talk to the fun and nostalgia of youth, giving consumers permission to access their childish side, whilst Snapchat (with its ‘snap and delete’ functionality) allows consumers to express ‘the real them’ albeit briefly, without the fear of something they found funny / interesting, virtually stalking them for the rest of their lives!
So how does a brand both build its authenticity and purpose in a consumer’s life? In short by:
- Acknowledging consumers have multi-dimensional identities
- Digging deep to understand which of these most strongly resonates with the category / brand
- Develop a portfolio where consumers can make brand choices aligned to their different identity needs
One great example of this is Jordan’s cereals. With a core essence that appears to talk to wholesome pleasure, it now has a range that extends from the more traditional Crunchy Oat Granola, to its more modern iteration, Fruit & Nut and onto the ‘treaty’ Country Crisps. Whilst these sub-brands all stay true to the brand’s essence, there is still room for the consumer to satisfy a range of other identities.
The ability for one brand to satisfy a plethora of identity needs, not only gives it a real emotional purpose in consumers’ lives but acts as a foundation to building a long and enduring relationship with them.