with Glenn R. Carroll, the Laurence W. Lane Professor of Organizations at Stanford Graduate School of Business, about authenticity in branding. The entire article is worth a read, but here are two key takeaways for content marketers and corporate communicators:

On moral authenticity: It’s all in what the values are behind the business and how you tell the story about them. Can you explain why your business is morally different? Why it is not simply seeking profits or market share to enrich you or someone else? ...You better make sure it’s true and that you’re actually doing what you claim you’re doing, because you’ll be found out if you lie or exaggerate. 

Why it matters: When people are attracted to your moral authenticity, it gives them a unique attachment to your product, because your identity is inalienable. Nobody else has your story. That’s the ultimate strategic position a firm can have.

This ups the game on storytelling, doesn't it?

Authenticity is driven by content and by voice. Each must be honest and trustworthy. Here's how to bring those traits to your content marketing:

  • Achieve authenticity in content -- the ideas and details we want to convey -- by being transparent about processes, data and practices. It's not so much about an inventory of your values as it is stories and actions that show how you apply those values. This is the walk. Download my deck on how to communicate authentically.
  • Achieve authenticity in voice and tone with plain language and sentence fluency. These two factors influence how the words sound when read or heard, so your goal is to sound like someone your audience trusts, like someone they want to hear from. This is the talk. Learn how word choice and sentence fluency impact voice.

Read up on how empathy drives authenticity, too.

The research shows that stories, actions and voice are the key influencers of authenticity. It makes sense, then, to put special emphasis on these traits at both the top level of your marketing organization and at the tactical level of every project. This is how you walk your talk and become an authentic brand.

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