Before her Design Museum Mornings presentation on May 15th, we sat down with Lisa Gralnek, Head of Brand Marketing at MOO to get the basics of brand authenticity. Reserve your free ticket to Lisa’s Design Museum Morning presentation on May 15th at Vermonster today!
Design Museum Boston: What does it mean for a brand to be authentic?
Lisa Gralnek: Authenticity is about heritage. It comes from a company’s sustained commitment to its core values. Authenticity stems from “why” a product or company exists in the first place, and is based in the experience that arises when a company continuously delivers on its promise(s). Brands do not emerge because of their relentless pursuit of profit; rather, they evolve through an unwavering dedication to the company’s mission and how this is communicated. So while times change, priorities shift, management churns, markets are volatile, and consumers are fickle—authentic brands successfully adapt using a clear lens of what they’re essentially all “about”. Be it innovation, commitment to local manufacturing, or selling the season’s sexiest trends for the lowest price—these brands succeed by staying true to themselves and sharing this with their communities.
DMB:In what way is design linked to brand authenticity?
LG: Design is everything. There isn’t a brand out there where design is not at the base of who they are and why they exist. As such, whether selling a product, service, or portfolio- design is the constant which is needed to uphold authenticity. And, the more clearly design is used to support the company mission and to evolve the customer offering (employee, investor, and partner offerings, too) – the more opportunity there is for thoughtful, genuine engagement and connection. Ultimately, it is this linkage that brings a brand to life and distinguishes between those who succeed and those who falter.
DMB: How has branding evolved with technology?
LG: Oh my, how has it not? Technology has entirely changed the way brands interact with consumers. Our points of engagement are more fragmented, our communications faster, and consumer expectations far greater (i.e. they want everything now). These changes open the door to diverse branding questions- especially in the realm of maintaining authenticity. How can a brand always be “on”- putting their best foot forward, ensuring the right brand voice and message across channels, platforms, mediums, geographies? Yet, this challenge is also an opportunity for truly authentic brands to distinguish themselves and be shown in the best light. Consistency is the key—in both action and communication. Authentic brands embrace their story, and can choose to tell it when, where, and how they think is right. Technology may have pushed brand marketing towards ever more relentless ubiquity, but it can also serve to bring us all closer, enhance life’s conveniences, and help brands find and engage their unique tribe of loyal followers—virtually and in real life.
DMB: Is the value of an authentic brand consistent across different industries?
LG: This is such an interesting question, and I’m so glad you asked it! My background is largely in luxury and fashion, and when I started my career more than a decade and a half ago- it was one of the few real bastions of authentic branding (say what you might…). But with time and technology, brand marketing as executed by the luxury goods and fashion industry was usurped by other industries. Now, everyone uses the same tools (celebrity endorsement, data analytics, content creation) and the same platforms (social media, digital advertising, event sponsorship) to convey their brand message, all the while trying to suggest theirs is unique. What’s actually unique is when a brand successfully builds an emotional connection with its customers by telling the story of how they honor the company’s values and consistently deliver on its promises. In this way, I believe the value of an authentic brand is not determined by industry or any other defining descriptor, but is in fact- universal.
Hear more about brand authenticity from Lisa at her Design Museum Mornings presentation on May 15th at Vermonster…Reserve your free ticket today!