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Self Awareness: The secret to boosting your audience awareness

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Imagine you're buying a used car - most sales pitches would start with highlighting the good parts - the sunroof, new tyres, automatic sensors - hoping the customer won't notice the dents or the sticky gearbox. Now imagine if they started with all the repairs that needed to be done — thin brake pads, leaky transmission, faulty radio — before they introduced the original leather seats, sunroof, and new tyres.

So here’s the curious thing: When you're honest and transparent about your product's "quirks," your customer will trust you more.

In an industry where every brand from coffee to fast food brands are trying to promote themselves as perfect, it’s refreshingly honest, to see brands tell you that they're not.

So What Is Self-Aware Marketing?

Self-Aware Marketing takes in-built assumptions people have about your brand and faces them head-on.

The very best self-aware content often breaks the fourth wall and addresses their audience directly. Their message may centre around satirical or even ironic content that pokes fun at their own product, service, or brand.

Self-Awareness has a lot of benefits

You Will Stand Out

You Will Be Relatable

You Will Foster Brand Loyalty

Oatly wakaging

Oatly, the oat drink is both self-aware and self-referential in its marketing and breaks many copywriter rules.

"This tastes like sh*t! Blah!" may not sound like the best endorsement for the product, (the words are taken directly from an actual customer review) but the company was able to address the comment with a logical answer by asking how would their ideal customer answer those objections. For example: a Vegan responding to a Diary Milk Drinker who's complaining about the taste of an oat drink may say: “You drink milk? Are you a baby cow?”

With this in mind, they wrote a counter-answer

“Plant-based drinks don’t taste like cow’s milk because they aren’t cow's milk,” if you stop to think about it for more than a second, would be the simple and highly logical response. Because if you have been drinking cow's milk all your life and think of its taste as a starting point or the standard, and also expect other drinks to taste exactly the same, then oat drink (for example) may seem rather unpleasant (or no, let's say “unusual” instead). On the other hand, if you ask someone who only drinks oat drink how they think cow's milk tastes, he or she will probably say “unpleasant” or we mean, “unusual.” Of course.

Oatly Packaging

Oatly's self-awareness can be found throughout all their communications and product design becoming part of their brand's identity. For example, they label the side for the legally required ingredients as "The Boring (But Very Important) Side. The attitude continues with the naming of Oatly's ice cream as "Quite Ordinary Strawberry", "Pretty Average Vanilla" and "Totally Basic Chocolate." So what can you learn from Oatly? When it comes to your communication you want to stand out:

  • Don’t sit on the fence: Stand for something and commit to it make it part of your brand's identity.

  • Humour gets your audience's attention and creates a positive emotion. As any good storyteller knows, any emotion from your audience will make them want to share it. Make your audience feel something positive so they tell it to everyone.

  • Align your dream team: You need to make sure everyone's on the same page. Your visual aesthetic should be singing from the same hymn sheet as your copywriters and your internal communications.

  • Find out how your clients view your business: Compare that to how you view yourself and your business and reconcile the differences.

  • Pay attention to detail: Show a level of authenticity and transparency on your communication platforms and harness the power of social media to speak directly to your audience.

TL:DR Brands are becoming more self-aware and understand that transparency builds trust.

  • break the fourth wall

  • poke fun at your own product, service or brand

  • use satirical or ironic content

  • Have a sense of humour with no-BS

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