Inauthentic Brands

Much of last week was spent at a management training course, the like of which I have both attended and run over the years. Towards the end of the event we looked at building personal brands, and it got me thinking…

A clear message from the course content was that authenticity is a key element of any person’s own personal brand. Without it, you’ll appear false, duplicitous or even Machiavellian. But authenticity is not, these days, something that corporate brands need to have by default.

There are a raft of examples:


Massive groups of brands which ostensibly look to the consumer as separate entities… The automotive sector is a great example, where a group like Volkswagen portrays itself in very different ways to different target groups (VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat). FMGC is another area with behemoths like Unilever having dozens of consumer brands that are seen as related by most consumers.

Acquired brands

Big players in traditional markets will make acquisitions to purchase hip presence in markets. Green and Blacks? It’s just Cadbury. Innocent Smoothies? That’s a little bit of Coca Cola these days…

Brands built on a myth

This is the really interesting one these days, and seems particularly popular in the world of fashion. Ted Baker? Not a real man. French Connection? As French as dim sum. Super Dry? As Japanese as my mum.

Does any of this matter? Well, only to the extent that maybe there isn’t as much to learn from the world of marketing about personal development as the personal brand devotees might like us to first think…

3 thoughts on “Inauthentic Brands

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