I’ve been working on this blog for a few months now and decided it would probably be a good idea to take stock of what we’ve learned so far. In perusing through all the old posts and came across three main themes. In the beginning, I set out to pin down the definition of authenticity as it applies to brands and the consumer. So far, it seems like being able to legitimately call something authentic requires that it be simple, have the ability to facilitate sharing, and that it involve storytelling on some level.
SImplicity goes hand-in-hand with authenticity. Many makers - architects, furniture designers, and industrial designers - believe that good design is invisible; that form follows function and the object being built should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.
When something is poorly designed, it has too much clutter and unecessary aesthetics that prevent the most efficient function. It is this baggage that so many brands currently carry around with them. Their attempts to shed it are not convincing to consumers because they refuse to really innovate themselves from the inside out.
Such a renovation would require that they strip themselves and their ideas down to their barest forms and start from scratch using only what they need. It is the brands that own this simplicity that then become authentic, because it is the only way to really be honest. Because really, if all the brands in the world stripped down their acoutrements, consumers would find that most brands would actually be completely useless. Only the brands that had, from the beginning, been solely concerned with their function would appeal to consumers because nothing would have changed in the stripping down to bare necessities.
Consumer values have been changing. Where they once used material items to prove their status, consumers now look to the story of a brand or particular product to elevate status amongst peers. Increasing consumer disillusionment with large corporations has led them to value stories over convenience. The internet has led to more transparency, which in turn has revealed unsettling facts about numerous corporations’ true colors. As a result, consumers look to new, smaller, and innovative products and brands that define their new values.
The presence of a good story facilitates sharing. Whether through tweets, foursquare, facebook, texting, email, or simple word of mouth, consumers are sharing more than ever before. Not only is it just easier through innovative technology but brands are increasingly providing consumers with reasons to share through creativity, transparency, and conversation. Instead of talking down to consumers, companies are talking with consumers, creating an open dialogue that encourages progress, new ideas, and collaboration on many levels.