Brand Authenticity In The Age Of Post-Truth

Dr. Martina OlbertovaApril 19, 20184 min

“Post-truth doesn’t mean the end of the truth. It’s actually the very opposite. It’s the liberation of truth from the old rigid classes of polarity. Truth is naturally of a plural origin, it’s the truths, and emotions and instincts that play a crucial role here.”

When ‘post-truth’ was voted the official word of 2016 by the Oxford Dictionary, many were left feeling unsettled. But post-truth and the post-factual age isn’t anything cataclysmic for brands, rather it’s a natural evolution of how we view, label reality and tell our brand stories in the post-modern post-capitalistic world.

A plurality of truth is nothing new under the sun. Truth as a cultural concept knows many different interpretations such as ‘truth is a lie repeated long enough’, ‘truth is just an illusion’ or the downright cynical ‘truth doesn’t exist’. The truth isn’t of a binary origin, and the world that operates on rigid oppositions such as truth – lie, good – evil, or right – wrong, no longer applies to the granularity of our current reality. The old world of black and white dichotomies is dead because it failed to give us any worthy alternatives. It signifies a decline of the either-or proposition limiting our lives as well as our worldview, which for one is a good thing.

The post-factual age isn’t a victory of form over content, it’s actually the very opposite. It’s the victory of content (meaning), over the form (aesthetics). Post-factual or post-truth does not mean that facts are no longer important; it means that dry facts and rigidity of expertise are no longer enough for us to make well-rounded decisions. Emotions are coming back to play as they should – they’re the primary driving force behind how we assign meaning to the world around us. Instinct (or gut-feeling) is as important as the facts, and often even more important because it’s contextual. How we feel is determined by the meaning we give to a situation – it’s the mental signification of our bodily answer to a new stimulus.

The upcoming age is much more interlinked, everything is connected to everything else and reactions are instant and powerful. The truth isn’t becoming obsolete, only the very definition of truth is becoming redefined, as there are multiple truths based on where we’re looking from. This prefaces a return to authenticity, emotionality and trust as the key values of the new era, which is based much more on inner values than external norms as a compass for navigation in the world around us.

Enter Brand Authenticity

Authenticity is heavily linked to the concept of ‘post-truth’. But if there’s no singular truth anymore, what does authenticity even mean? It’s ever more important for brands to understand this since consumers demand authenticity today.

The problem with authenticity is that it’s become hugely misinterpreted by the marketing industry. Authenticity simply means ‘staying true to one’s self‘. Whatever the self is. It does not mean that brands should all be authentic in the same way, it means the very opposite – finding their own voice, their own expression and speaking from the place of honesty and integrity. For each brand, authenticity will undoubtedly mean something a bit different, and that’s OK. After all, they all have different values, different essence and DNA.

This is what younger generations seek and what they are accustomed to as authenticity finding our own original voice, creating impact in the world and being here on the planet Earth for more than just pay the bills and die – it is the purpose of our life. This is why we appreciate brands that can match our expectations for honesty, original expression and integrity because we strive for the same values in our own lives. So instead of designing the catchiest visual identities or the coolest ads, brands that want to cater to the new breed of global audiences should first withdraw, look inside, do the internal audit and find and clearly articulate their own meaning.

Authenticity plays an important role as the cornerstone of diversity because we all are being different while being authentically ourselves. This is how authenticity creates a richness of thought and brings in new ideas that drive innovation. The entire post-factual age is only a return to the real essence of things, which is the unity in plurality: The Oneness. There’s nothing to fear because it’s actually much more in sync with humans and our spiritual nature than the black and white dehumanising era that came before.

Division is just an illusion. We all belong to the same Source. This is why boundaries we had created are now becoming increasingly eroded and distorted; things are much less clear and more unpredictable. But in this unpredictability, there lies the inner order – the change, the ever-evolving nature of things. What we need now is the one thing that we can count on, the one thing that connects it all together, the one thing that will always be there and has a constant value in time. And that one thing is meaning.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Dr. Martina Olbertova, founder and chief executive at Meaning.Global. Excerpted from The Global Brand Equity Report: End of Global Brands. Rise of Local Relevancy. Read the full report here or download it here.”

The Blake Project Can Help: Please email us for more about how we can help your brand connect and lead with meaning.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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