Authenticity is one of the most coveted qualities in the world of branding. The idea itself isn’t super complex – basically you have to make sure that the way you present the product is consistent with the actual qualities the product itself – but because it’s something that has to be earned rather than bought it can be a very elusive thing for a lot of companies.
When people complain about marketing, they’re often reacting to that lack of authenticity. As a case in point, take Taco Bell’s current campaign touting the “Drive Thru Diet“: sure, Taco Bell can be an occasionally delicious late night snack, but most reasonable people don’t associate their food with anything remotely healthy. But, despite that reality, they have ads touting the benefits of their new low-fat line…they even made their logo green, so you know it has to be good for you. Right?
In the case of Firefox, I feel really fortunate to get to work on a brand that, because of Mozilla’s community, history and mission, oozes with realness. The tricky thing is that it’s a lot harder to build up a sense of authenticity than it is to lose it, so we in the marketing department are always very careful to make sure our projects maintain the appropriate degree of Mozilla-ness.
There’s no magic formula – it’s more of a “know it when you see it” kind of thing – but the general idea is be consistent with the organization’s values, engage the community and perhaps most importantly, only say stuff that’s true (it helps to have a great product, of course). So, until someone lands a patch for Firefox that guarantees users weight loss and whiter teeth, we’ll keep the outrageous claims to a minimum.