The search for truth in advertising

18 October 2022

With brands jumping on bandwagons left, right and centre, and consumers - or tribes - at their most savvy, there’s never been a greater need for the truth. In fact, it’s the single most important aspect of a creative brief.

What is the truth in advertising?

Truth is the commonality between your product, service and your intended tribe. The voice that speaks their language and listens to their response, in order to build their trust, adoration and advocacy.

But to get that conversation started, you have to get to the truth; your brand truth, product truth and tribe truth. In other words, you need to establish who’s talking about what to whom. And why. 


Brand truth

This is your brand’s personality. It’s how you want to be perceived by everyone associated with your organisation - especially your tribe. Your brand truth states who you are; what you do, and why you do it. It’s basically what makes you, you. And that’s what piques the interest of your tribe. Once you’ve got their attention, it’s time for your product (or service) to do the talking. 

Product truth

This is what your product promises to do for your tribe. Perhaps it makes their life easier; enhances their performance; makes them look or feel more attractive… Whether it does this well or not is kind of irrelevant. What counts here is that your product has a specific purpose and people get it.

Tribe truth 

This is how your tribe perceives your product. A rave review from one of them isn’t enough to verify its greatness. Tribe truth requires validation by an appropriate sample size. So, if a high proportion of your tribe say it’s great, then it’s great. Social media can be both your best and worst friend for finding the truth. Can you handle the truth? 

Let your tribe do the talking

Once you’re speaking to the right folk, let them do the leg work. By sharing genuine feedback in the public arena, it’s possible to reduce your marketing spend and just sustain the word of mouth element. Because no one sells your product (or services) better than the people who actually use it.

The truth hurts. Or does it?

Not everyone will love your brand. But any press is good press - if you’re smart. Brands that do really well celebrate their failures as well as their successes. Perhaps through the use of humour to respond to a negative comment, or simply admitting to getting something wrong. By remaining honest they can retain - even gain - credibility and strengthen their brand. 

Attracting a new tribe

Every brand wants to grow. Branching out into a new market is one way to reach a new tribe.

But it’s important to remember that one truth doesn’t fit all. You have to identify what’s important to your new tribe - and find a new product truth that’s right for them.

 For example, imagine a tennis ball manufacturer supplying balls to Wimbledon. Their tribe are clearly tennis players. But dog owners also have a need for tennis balls - dogs love chasing them. The same product has two distinct product truths and two clear tribes. (Give or take a little crossover with tennis playing dog owners!) If you don’t adapt, you won’t grow.

The truth - well, it’s everything. It’s what every brand needs to embrace, not only to survive but thrive. 

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