Communicating brand content, in all its shapes and sizes, is a people business. PR and the messaging you are creating is anchored in how to reach, attract, inform, educate, often sway—and most importantly, influence—people. Is your brand making a human connection? If so, how deep? What’s your secret sauce or your go-to method to humanize your brand, draw meaningful connections, and land squarely on the map of authenticity?
Staci Rawls, chief communications officer at KFC US, has fried up the perfect tips for brand communicators. “With more than 70 years of heritage to fall back on, we dug deep and asked ourselves: When the brand was at our best, what were the truths about us?"
Rawls discovered that, throughout history, "anytime we centralized the Colonel and his personality with our efforts, we succeeded. So we looked for communication tools that modernized our founder’s voice and told an authentic story about what KFC stood for. My advice is that your brand voice and personality simply must be rooted in brand truths, or your consumer will see it for what it is: inauthentic."
This first piece of advice speaks to the need for brands to understand clearly what its brand truths are. This is also important to understand as consumers now expect brands to stand up and offer a position on often-polarizing social and political issues. Authenticity comes when a brand is reaching deep into itself and its history, rather than looking to its audience for guidance on what it should value and support. Audience sentiment is important, of course, but savvy consumers can tell when a brand is pandering and not truly expressing its core views and purpose.
Another question to ask yourself is whether your brand is integrated into the culture of its audience. Or is an outlier? Rawls emphasizes this point: “By ensuring our approach to everything we do is authentic and real, we do a much better job of intersecting the brand with modern culture. We strive to make the brand not something that exists [not] alongside culture but as a part of culture.”
Humans are drawn to simple approaches you can easily implement such as showing gratitude, being transparent, and building rock-solid relationships. It’s certainly evident in the KFC’s highly successful communications model. “We like to say we don’t do things 'half fried' and I think that shows up and resonates with people,” noted Rawls.
Communicate with trust in mind and build your authenticity, one bucket of chicken, or in your case, one consumer at a time!