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Today’s consumers aren’t looking for conversations with brands as much as about them, and what they take away from the engagement, clicks, and any other social behaviors is far more important than the creative ways marketers deliver them. People seek the truth about the products and services they buy, as well as the businesses behind them.

Contributing to that understanding is how brands build trust, sales, and loyalty, thereby making telling the truth the only viable and sustainable source of long-term competitive advantage. Truthful brands are more profitable and successful, making truth telling the strategic and creative challenge of the 21st century.

It’s easier said than done, however. Is your brand telling the truth?

Generations of marketers have distilled, shaved, spun, cherry-picked, and sometimes ignored the truths about their brands and businesses, only now those truths are unavoidable thanks to the power of digital media and peer-to-peer sharing. So brands that don’t contribute to the truth are failing to be a part of the conversations that matter. The opposite of truth telling isn’t lying but rather the absence of truth. Even if your marketing is memorable (and wins awards), it’s not enough to create branding that doesn’t contribute to your customers’ better understanding of the truth.

This reality demands that we revisit how brands are defined (less associated emotions, and more concrete actions) and the ways marketing is delivered (more attention to the who, what, where, when, and how it’s experienced).

Sue Unerman and I wrote the book on how to do it. Here’s a quick review from Wired, FYI

Tell The Truth contains over 50 cases and insights we gleaned from two years of research and hundreds of interviews. TruthTraining distills our findings into a half-day working session that applies them to the immediate, practical needs of your business:

  • A detailed exploration of the 8 qualities of truth telling (4 for content & 4 for context)
  • Strategic implications: How might it change the way you approach development of your definitions & strategies?
  • Department-level analyses: What could change in your media relations, customer service & employee communications?
  • Specific projects: 3 projects and/or activities (your choice) and work through the details.
  • Next steps: What are the actionable tools you can take back to the office and apply immediately?