Authenticity vs. Trust in The Digital Environment
In a traditional setting, without the vast spaces that a digital environment allows, authenticity and trust were more of a tangible quality that customers or clients could see and feel. With this confidence factor, consumers were easily able to make informed decisions, purchases and build relationships based on a face to face interaction with the product, service or brand representative themselves.
Today – with much of business being conducted over some sort of digital divide, be it eCommerce, project management or video conference – there is a level of trust that much be lent from each side in order to fulfill a successful transition leading to a sustained relationship.
One of the biggest questions for organizations operating online is how to not only give the perception of authenticity, but actually BE authentic. With users across the globe, the viability of a business rests on user experience and the resulting presence of trust in the digital environment. A certain amount of handholding, though nuanced, should be translated into a user journey that takes the customer from first impression to conversion – this process should be seamless, but by design to foster a true connection.
Authenticity breeds trust, you cannot have one without the other.
Brand development for an ‘authentic voice’ is not enough. Consumers today can see right through a manufactured, even fabricated veil of feigned authenticity. These tactics, while effective to pique the interest of a prospective audience, will only result in lost conversions, poor reviews and the ultimate downfall of the brand. In the true pursuit of authenticity, a brand must realize that to gain the holy grail of customer loyalty, being trust, all components must be present inclusive of honesty, integrity, and transparency. Only then, can trust be extended.
Strategically, any digital representation of a brand or organization should include the afore mentioned elements. When designing for both visual and contextual assets, the building blocks to reach the desired outcome include consistency, clear value proposition and a concise but conversational tone. The comfort level of the user is of utmost importance, and through easy to understand but informational language- they will get questions answers and problems solved quickly and with the least amount of work.
Because earning the trust of the consumer isn’t a given, brands must follow a purposeful approach to implementing strategies. Through the use of brand and content development, ux strategies, user journey mapping and usability testing – connections will be more easily made and value heightened.1