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The Rise of Genuine Brands: Connecting the Dots Between Honesty and Humanity

In contrast to tightly controlled marketing and polished ad campaigns, raw honesty stands out from the crowd. Brands that speak directly to the core of the human experiences are seeing success.

Honesty is key

Think of Oatly, a brand that started as a regular FMCG fighting for space on supermarket shelves. By boldly declaring that nobody cares about milk, the brand underwent a transformative journey, evolving into a lifestyle brand that stands for something beyond a dairy alternative.

Their freedom of expression and witty tactics often hit the headlines. For example, they recently “hacked” their own billboard in Paris when they were told murals had to be “artful” and not feature products or logos.

© Oatly/Instagram. Cover image © Polina Tankilevitch

Look at Tala, a brand whose mission is to provide sustainable, high-performance activewear. Besides breaking the mould with product innovation and size inclusivity, Tala’s success also comes from speaking candidly to its Gen Z audience.

In an Instagram reel, founder Grace Beverley’s description of their new full-length coat isn’t the usual sleek, glamorous content, it’s relatable. Beverley describes going to the Co-Op in your pyjamas, or “to meet that attractive man in the dog park. It’s understandable, we’ve all been there”. It’s a personable, human approach. And it works—the puffer jackets hit £1m sales in just one hour!

© Tala/Instagram

Tala's approach to product development mirrors this candidness by incorporating honest customer feedback. In a Facebook advert promoting long flares, the brand openly displayed comments from customers requesting “longer lengths”. This direct interaction shows Tala's commitment to speaking the language of their audience and engaging with their needs. It’s a conversation.

Agencies should take note

In the agency world, look at The Wrong Agency. Their proposition of “we are probably not right for you”, is a wonderful use of reverse psychology. Their “eight things we believe are right” are bold and unapologetic, speaking to the barriers us agency folk often face. They showcase their principles without shame: “we’re demanding, simple-minded, uncompromising, picky, revolutionaries, unserious, impatient, exaggerators”.

Similarly, Don't Cry Wolf adopt a maverick brand approach for their focus on activism and societal change. They’re unwilling to compromise, stating: “Our values are at the core of our work and our culture. So here they are. If they don’t align with you then, well, we wish you love and light as you find a better fit. These values are non-negotiable”.

It’s not that these agencies aren’t selling themselves, they’re selling themselves authentically.

© The Wrong Agency

Embrace the rise of real

What ties these seemingly different brands together? It's the rawness. The willingness to dive into the vulnerable aspects of everyday life—with a drop of humour. Much like observational comedy, these brands are pointing out the often unspoken.

Is this human-centred design? It's more than just focus groups and testing. It's about tapping into the gritty everyday experiences of people. It's about connecting with real emotions, real struggles, and real triumphs.

So, what’s driving this trend? It's part of a larger shift—a response to a world shaped by climate change and new technology. In an era where knowing what feels real has become an art.

Consider the impact of AI, blurring lines between reality and fabrication. Think about the noise of fake news in a landscape of geopolitics and war, or greenwashing amid genuine environmental concerns.

The connection between these brands and our evolving world isn't coincidental. It's a response to a collective yearning for authenticity—a desire for genuine connections in a world filled with fake.

So, here's to the rise of realness. The celebration of genuine human experiences, and the brands that dare to be honest. Because now, more than ever, being real isn't just a choice. It's a necessity.

At Six, we’re experts in inspiring brands to be more human.

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