Creating Differentiation with Authenticity & Storytelling

What’s the ‘meaning’ of all this? 

The proliferation of technology has not only shifted the way we’re able to consume media but also how much we’re able to access at any given time. Needless to say, there is no shortage of content, experiences, and platforms at our fingertips. So how are brands supposed to differentiate themselves and create lasting relationships when audiences are demanding more from their content? This requires marketers to reach deep into the core of their brand and surface meaning for consumers that is showcased in a truly authentic way. 

You might be thinking to yourself, “Great…Authenticity...Meaning...We’ve heard it before. So what now?” Let’s break down these classic fluffy buzzwords and how we should think about them in the context of brand marketing. 

In a 2017 research study, done by Yale professor, George Newman, he dissected how audiences define meaning and authenticity and what motivated them to seek it from brands. He found that one key way in which consumers think about authenticity is through connection, and products or services that were more authentic reinforced more meaningful connections with other users.  

This would help explain why user-generated-content has become so powerful for brands to harness. Audiences are looking for those avenues of relatability to create a genuine connection and seek real, personalized experiences throughout their purchase/decision journey.  

But, there’s obviously more to it than ‘creating a connection’. In the same research study, Newman exposed that beyond feeling a connection with the brand, and its other consumers, brand heritage played a powerful role in creating authenticity. In the case of consumer goods, even a brands’ manufacturing location played a role in the level of authenticity and connection a person felt. In one example, people were willing to pay significantly more for Levi’s jeans that were made in the original San Francisco manufacturing location vs. the exact same pair of jeans made overseas. That same buyer-preference and price discretion still existed when ‘original-factory jeans’ were compared to the same pair of jeans made in another SF manufacturing location. 

Multiple test cases like this exposed the insight that authenticity and meaning were closely linked to the idea of a brand “essence” or “aura”. The closer consumers could get to it, the more they felt it rubbed off on them and created that connection they were yearning for (and were willing to pay a premium for!) 

“Stories are just data with a soul” 

If a brand’s “aura” and “essence” carry so much weight, how is a marketer meant to showcase this to consumers and create that endless connection? Welp, it doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t through your typical Instagram post or programmatic display advertisement. In an industry focused on data, segmentation, and targeting, it’s easy to forget that good storytelling, through more long-form content and experiences, humanizes the brand and differentiate it with a relatable personality. 

This doesn’t mean storytelling is devoid of data. As popular researcher Brene Brown suggests, “Stories are just data with a soul”. As mentioned in our previous blog, data informs what will resonate with your audience and where is best to deliver that to them. The most powerful brands use custom content (editorial, videos, product placement), personal experiences, and innovative technology to bring that ‘soul’ to life and connect with audiences.   

Email us at if you want to learn more about creating effective content to drive awareness for your brand, or click below to sign up for the webinar discussion!

Lynn Browne