My housemate forwarded me an interesting report from his firm, The Playbook, on how brands are connecting with their target audience at present entitled, "Who cares about your brand?"

Below is a screenshot of the final page and the excerpt below really sums up something I talk to quite a few people about. Namely, authenticity. 

"Consumers are increasingly savvy and will see through a brand endorsement that doesn’t feel genuine. Experts have far greater influence than celebrities amongst all age groups. This may reflect a combination of “celebrity overload” along with a craving for credible, trusted voices to help people form opinions amongst the noise and clutter of our media landscape. The right celebrities can still deliver plenty of reach, but the smart approach appears to be finding individuals that can combine a large following with a credible, ‘expert’ image that naturally fits with the brand and appeals to the target audience."

So, at the very least, you need to be promoting your brand through someone whose endorsement feels genuine, not merely a commercial, money-spinning ploy. One really nice example is Nas' (the acclaimed hip-hop artist) animated adverts for Timberland shoes which tapped into his own history and how it intertwines with Timberland boots during his formative years. See here.

Moreover, if you can portray an expert image it will add value to your proposition as your customers feel like they are getting something special and that they are dealing with someone who knows, understands and can solve their quandary. Crucially, if you can be that "credible, trusted voice" amongst all of the other noise, you will enjoy a strong and enduring competitive advantage.

It's worth noting that this is not just a one-off report, there are some other excellent reports from Ogilvy One and Cursive Content which are well worth the read too.