In part two of my series on key takeaways from the 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, let’s talk about the power of authenticity for both personal and corporate brands. When you think of “authenticity”, what does that mean to you? Do you think of how it relates to your work, or maybe the future of your career?
To me, being authentic means staying true to yourself and your values. You aren’t catering to someone else’s desires. Creative people, whether through writing, performing, designing, whatever, are all essentially expressing themselves. It doesn’t matter what form of media you use. It’s true to you. So it wasn’t surprising that authenticity was a hot topic for several speakers at the Cannes Creative Festival.
Ashley Frangipane, better known as singer/songwriter Halsey, spoke about authenticity on a personal level and as it relates to company brands in her presentation Authentic, Creative, and Unafraid. On the personal brand level, she said to always remember that your social media accounts are your brand. Anyone who views your profiles should be able to know who you are, what you do, and what you believe in. On the company brand level, Halsey advised to still write and share personal experiences to make it authentic, so everyone can relate to it. It will better resonate with people that way. “You can create a product that will adapt to culture, or you can create a culture that will adapt to a product,” Halsey observed. Whatever level you’re working on, be authentic to your brand and that’s what people will trust in.
For rapper and Creative Director, Rakim Mayers (a.k.a. A$AP Rocky), authenticity is driven by passion. You need to truly believe in something if you want other people to also believe in it. “If you stick to the good authentic ideas, you don’t need a bunch of money to push it, because people will gravitate towards it,” he noted. People hate when they know they’re being advertised to, and they don’t want to hear generic sales messages. They want something that will actually benefit their lives.
Platon, the world-renowned photographer, took the festival crowd through The Craft of Authenticity. He said, “Advertising teaches us to say powerful messages… advertising is a window to the world. [As storytellers] we get to choose what to say.”
As an example of big brands that use authenticity and transparency effectively in their ads, McDonald’s came out on top in several lists. Now, McDonald’s wouldn’t have been my first thought, but their “Our Food. Your Questions.” campaign is one of the more transparent campaigns in recent years. The whole idea was to take common myths and address them publicly. McDonald’s has long struggled with ingredient and processing concerns. With new brands championing with healthier options, they had some questions to answer. Literally. The result has been one of their most talked about campaigns ever. With over 5.4 million views, and 42,000 questions asked and answered, McDonald’s has been able to address their customer’s concerns and reinstate their values.
In summary, we get authenticity when we combine what we know with what we love. That’s how we truly make a difference in the world. More to come on that in the third part of this series. Stay tuned.