Authenticity in an uncertain world

August 14, 2017

By: John Saunders

A great story, beautifully crafted and well told, will engage and enrich even the toughest audience. But get it wrong and you will feel a surge of disappointment that will cost you dearly.

The newly released 2017 Authenticity Gap study points to shifting levels of disappointment that suggest we need to re-examine how we tell our story.

Our research reveals that we feel particularly let down when it comes to our expectation of better value from the brands with which we regularly engage. Friends and family are significantly more trustworthy sources, and news outlets are at a crossroads.

In almost every aspect of our lives, from politics to business, the gap between what we expect and what we experience determines either the extent of our disappointment or our satisfaction. The greater the gap, the more unhappiness we find.

At FleishmanHillard we call this the Authenticity Gap. And we believe that understanding the cause of this disconnect and tackling the issues behind it are crucial to a brand’s success. Closing this gap to better align experience with expectation is instrumental not just for reputation, but also for the long-term survival of your brand.

This is the subject of our comprehensive study that this year identified several key issues:

  • We want better value, but our very definition of what that value consists of has changed;
  • Credibility is on the line. Our expectations around reliable communications have plummeted and the sources we seek for reliable information are shifting;
  • Companies should do more to address wider social issues. We expect brands to go beyond regulations to help make a significant difference to our shared world; and
  • Disruptors are disappointing. Those cutting-edge start-ups created to challenge the establishment need to do more than provide innovative services.

One of the most effective ways to address these, and the other issues highlighted in our research, is to make sure the story you tell is authentic and touches on every part of what your brand stands for.

I invite you to read this global executive summary of our 2017 research into the key Authenticity Gaps that are challenging some of the world’s most familiar brands. The study – the largest we have done so far – offers some crucial insights into how companies can better connect with their customers to ensure more authentic engagement. And less disappointment.