Time goes by but fundamentals do not change.
Since the birth of the trade economy, producers have strived to showcase what makes them special – where they’ve come from, the people behind them and the worthy work involved in bringing their goods and services to market.
And as consumers, we’ve placed value upon quality products produced by credible producers we trust. These are the brands we choose to do business with.
But the mass media age blurred many lines. As the organizations of the last century strived to stand out from the crowd, get noticed and build market share, authenticity fell out of vogue.
Staying true to ones origins, building a way of life and a sense of purpose became “nice to haves” – overshadowed instead by short-term hype, a need to achieve maximum exposure, to extract maximum profit today.
It became more effective to be who the market wanted you to be, to chase immediate opportunity and to adjust your identity and story to suit.
Audiences could be bought, they could be reconditioned.
Brand positioning, or indeed whole new brands, could be manufactured on spec, then broadcast at scale. A cheaper, better, faster alternative to investing in an enduring set of values, to building an infectious culture and a proposition that could spread itself.
Media was expensive. And so were the skills required to create effective content. But if reach and scale and buying the market was the name of the game, it worked.
So we let the media industry shape our stories for us. And often, authentic organizations struggled to cut through the hype.
Now, we’re entering an open media age.
Media space has become infinite; and content creators are everywhere.
They’re social and they’re mobile. They live, work and play in our communities. They capture and share the world as they see it. They’re real people, sharing real experiences – things we can relate to.
And as consumers, we increasingly see through the corporate polish. Whilst we appreciate creativity and clever story-telling, we now seek the social proof to back it up. We’re leaning towards products and experiences produced by people and organizations whose values align with ours. And it is now easier than ever to discover and validate those that do.
Organizations can now showcase what makes them special like never before. Through authentic content produced by real people – be they staff, advocates or customers.
This emerging media paradigm brings with it a new set of challenges. But the answers lie in reconnecting with the fundamentals.
It all comes back to basics.
A culture backed by a clear sense of purpose, a commitment to values and delivering a quality product will always stand the test of time.
Now, rather than telling audiences what makes us special, we can show them. And that’s what audiences expect.
We are all our own media companies now. And there is only one sustainable strategy.