I am making a prediction. In the age of "false news" and "alternative facts," more and more people will grow weary of being lied to. While the Internet and instantaneous global communication enables people to easily create unverified and uncorroborated "stories" and "news," it also enables the truth to eventually come out on almost everything. And while it may enable tribalism and tribal echo chambers, it also can be the source of whistleblowing and challenging alternative points of view.
It is my opinion that we are on the cusp of much greater transparency and a return to authenticity. Nothing is purely good or bad or black or white. Everything is much more complicated than that. I believe we will soon enter a period in which the ugly truth will be preferred to a sanitized lie, where the admission of guilt will be better received than the denial of wrongdoing, where a brand's warts will be viewed to be a part of the brand's rich tapestry of existence.
In this world, brands will level with their customers. And they will work together with them to solve problems. If errors are made or service is lacking, the truth will be known, amends will be made and the brand and its managers will learn and grow from the experience. In this world, brands are trustworthy. They possess integrity. They are introspective. And they listen, learn and grow from feedback.
And, in this world, consumers are more patient, more tolerant, less judgmental and more understanding. This all occurs because there is a partnership between brands and their customers, a real partnership, a partnership based on trust. In this world, brands need to come clean if they have made mistakes. And customers will need to cut them some slack for having done so.
I think people will increasingly long for authenticity. "Just be real." "Just let me know what is really going on. I can work with that."
Yes, there will always be charlatans and people and brands who will make promises that they can't keep, but increasingly we will search out those brands with which we can let our guards down, one's that we know are not lying to us, one's that we can rely on to be who they say they are.
And this authenticity does not substitute for excellence or even a unique value proposition. But, I believe there will be a backlash to the time in which we are currently living and the backlash will demand authenticity. You would do well to get your brand ready for that.