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A Journey Through Authenticity

Humans have evolved to be both visual and emotional. Take the visual. As babies we learn very quickly from visual stimuli like movement and colour. Then, within weeks of birth we learn to recognise, and reciprocate, when someone smiles at us. Emotion kicks in. We might not understand what this particular emotion is, but we instinctively appreciate its honesty and authenticity, and we respond to it in kind.

Yet as we make the journey into adulthood it’s fascinating that we seem to forget the importance of authenticity, most notably when we settle into roles in the corporate world. In fact it’s no exaggeration to state that the visually bland, the unemotional, and oft times the inauthentic, have been the cornerstones of straight-laced corporate brand building for decades.

But it’s authenticity that’s the key – emotional storytelling only truly connects with the audience if it comes from a place of authenticity. We all know how to do it – we do it all the time - but because it’s incongruous to the way we’ve been programmed corporately, we tend to struggle when we have our B2B hats on. But there is a way forward.

Consider this example. Oracle Chat is a provision offered to our user community – a go-to concierge that offers technical advice and support. It’s a corporate service, but it is also a team of highly skilled, knowledgeable and quite frankly lovely people. I’ll prove it to you – here they are. This is the reality – a ‘selfie’ of the Oracle Chat team; the faces behind the voices. By offering the visual (the photograph) and the emotional (their smiles) we have started to introduce the authentic. It’s not just a service anymore; it’s a living breathing extension of your team.

Take it a step further. In a beautifully meta example of a social network behaving in a social way, this video does the same job for LinkedIn and for the individuals represented.

We’ve just embarked on our own series of personal stories. One minute with… will provide an insight into the people behind our brand, without any mention of product or service.

This is the journey B2B brands need to take if they have any hope of moving away from traditional, rational corporate storytelling. But the most important point to take away here is this; emotional, authentic storytelling doesn’t always have to be about you. You, or your people, don’t have to hand over personal stories every time.

White papers are a tried and tested (if at times unemotional) demand generation tool. They serve a purpose, but they are often lacking in the visual, the emotional and the authentic. So change the way you present them, like this. What could have been a dry and uninspiring demand generation tweet has become a piece of helpful and supportive advice, purely by telling me (and physically showing me on the page) what is most interesting.

It’s about being honest.

It’s about being authentic.

And it’s about being passionate.

It’s not that big an evolutionary step, but it’s a huge leap for marketingkind.