Why authenticity matters.
Levi Strauss & Company, and Purina. Both companies with a long history of success.
Unfortunately for Levis, recent history hasn’t been that successful. Riding a wave of success up to and including the 1970s the brand was unprepared for what happened next. Over the next few decades, the once top brand in denim wear fell on difficult times. Revenues were down thanks to changing fashions, and a poor choice of not capitalizing on the baggy jean trend. As such, they seemed to lose the one thing that brought them to the public eye in the first place. That they were the real deal. They were there when the United States was being built. It was Levis who made the pants that were worn by workers all across the country. They were the brand of choice during World War 2 for workers who were supplying the troops. The struggle to find a place among all of the newer denim manufacturers and more popular pant styles became too much. While they’ve attempted to reclaim much of that backstory, it may be a case of too little, too late.
Purina on the other hand, doesn’t have a long backstory to fall back on. They don’t have the sort of enduring history that Levi Strauss can claim. Instead, in order to increase their brand awareness and grab onto the consumer’s attention they turned to social media. Instead of their own story, they’re letting customers tell theirs. They’re using longer posts, supplemented by pictures, and content from like-minded publications to enhance the customer experience with not only their product, but with their pet. They’re bringing families closer through their content.
Instead of building off of a long backstory that talks of how Purina came to be and what they’ve accomplished, they’ve chosen instead to shine a spotlight on the backstory of the customers who send them their own personal stories. Choosing instead to say that the stories of their customers is as much a part of their own backstory and history as it is their future. They didn’t lose focus on where they came from, like Levi Strauss appears to have done, but instead narrowed in on where their customers came from in supporting Purina.
Having a solid backstory can be very important for a company. It helps establish the values the company brings to its customers, and promotes a sense of community. It provides that sense of authenticity that customers can tap into. With the right level of authenticity, the customer can feel as much a part of the history of the brand as any product or spokesperson. Authenticity in a brand promotes a sense of community, a sense of pride. With community comes word of mouth publicity, and an increase in brand awareness as your loyal customers become brand ambassadors. Just make sure that it comes across as genuine. The best ways of defining a backstory for any company is to talk to the company founder, condense the message into key messages, and then work it into anything the company does to reach out to its consumers.
Like with anything, a good backstory must be maintained and supported. Once you let that go, like Levis Strauss did, the framework weakens. So embrace your history, and with it your customers.