In a world of choice, it’s tempting to retouch your brand story to make it more appealing. It’s tempting to say your clothes are made in one country, when in fact some of the garment is made somewhere else. It’s easy to state that you have a rigorous environmental policy when in fact it’s still under development. It’s simple to say that your food has the perfect mix of whatever, when in fact your machines are not calibrated to tell you exactly how much of which ingredient will end up in a randomly sampled pack. It just takes a moment to add a qualification you don’t have and to say it’s from an impressive institution – because you know you’re that good anyway.
And it’s easy to justify all this, because “the competition made us do it”, or “everyone says this stuff” or “we’re just telling people what they want to hear” or “we have everything but the paperwork on that” or “we didn’t know” or “it was just an oversight”.
Sometimes, the story of who you are and what you’ve done is not perfect for a particular situation. Sometimes, you can’t match their expectations exactly. You will look “fat” in some areas and a bit loose in others. There will be wrinkles and scars and marks. But that’s what makes you real to your brand. That’s what gives you, to paraphrase Hannah Samuel, a reputation worthy of your brand and vice versa.
There is a giant credibility gap between having a brand story and having a brand fairy tale. Wishful thinking is a world away from wishful stating. And at some stage, perhaps in the strangest of ways, chances are that if you are depending on the latter you will be found out.
How airbrushed is the story you’re telling your customers? Because if it’s too perfect, it may also be too good to ring true. And under the unblinking scrutiny of the media, what started out as just a little fanciful amendment could cripple your credibility.
Photo of “airbrush of Arnhem (NL), taken by Luuk Bosker, sourced from Flickr