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The Controversial Dilemma between Sincerity & Wokeism

In a world guided by stories rather than facts, building a sustainable brand would require more sincerity than wokeism.


By Cristián Saracco, Founding Partner at Allegro 234. Senior Strategy Advisor at FutureBrand

The Controversial Dilemma between Sincerity & Wokeism

At some point in recent years, many practitioners have believed that, regardless of whether it is true or not, we can craft facts to our liking, and persuade and influence their target audience through stories that support such “parallel realities”.

Not to mention when it comes to sustainability and how it should be conveyed by brands. We are living at a time when many companies have become so green that the blame for pollution, global warming or greenhouse gases lies with the citizens, the cows, the cities without trees. Brutal greenwashing!

Let’s talk about sins - I’ll leave the sinners to you:

• “We have a plan to reduce our plastic consumption by 20% by 2030”. That’s cool! What is not mentioned is that even with that reduction, they will still be the world’s leading generator of plastic waste.

• “Our social commitment is reflected in being a Certified B Corp”. Nice!. However, they forgot to mention that they still have no plans to reduce and change the packaging of their goods, and they are the third company in the world that generates pollution due to their packages.

• “We are an innovative and pioneering company that manufactures and markets non-polluting electric vehicles”. Others who forget to say that the value chain of their manufacturing system does contaminate, and this level of pollution is growing steadily at 4% per year.

• “We belong to the Fast-Fashion world, and we are cool, socially responsible and sustainable”. During this year they have been denounced for lying about sustainability and for labour exploitation in their factories.

Nevertheless, there is a climate crisis that is largely related to our activity, our disdain for the care of public spaces, to our capricious and extemporaneous habits.

What is being done by organisations that seem to be shareholders of the Diazepam manufacturers is not worth talking about.

Just look, for example, at this image of the weather in Spain, which is something like Dante’s 7th Inferno, as opposed to the rest of Europe and North Africa, which does not have this crisis and whose environments remain cool.

In light of all this, brands and the businesses that are synthesised by them, it seems essential to regain and use common sense, and to behave with greater sincerity.

Damn it! Authenticity, Transparency and Sincerity Are Not the Same Thing

Let’s invest two minutes in a series of concepts, not to learn them, but to establish a common basis of understanding among us - although they are pretty nice ones:

• Authenticity: It is a quality of demonstration; it’s an innate characteristic of any subject; we are born authentic. Clear enough?

• Transparency: It is a property of observation. Despite the efforts of some companies, transparency is something that doesn’t lie within their control - even though they may “secretly” manipulate their image to generate that idea. It is up to each of us to decide whether a company is transparent or not

• Sincerity: It is being true to oneself without neglecting others. It’s about recognising that the company lives in a world that goes beyond its own borders. It is about deeply considering its impact on the world

Babies are authentic, kids learn to behave sincerely. The same can happen with companies.

Let’s Build Stories Based on Real Facts, for Fantasy, We Still Have Star Trek

Brands must be sincere - neither authentic, nor live in “Raiders of the Lost Transparency”. Does this make it necessary to stop telling stories, especially given how beautiful they are?

Actually, the answer to the above question is no. It is about building stories. It is about building stories, not telling them. To build, one needs a plan, a foundation, materials, etc.

The connection between brand and sustainability is about stories that are based on realities, that do not scare, that go to the very basis of branding, whose

objectives, among others, include:

• Being relevant and belonging to a specific category.

• Differentiating oneself from the rest

• Reducing uncertainties, which in turn requires transmitting tranquillity

Be rational in what needs to be kept rational, objective in the way things happen, attentive in what makes a difference, emotional in what keeps us alive.

Some Brands Do the Right Thing, Others Don’t, Even If They Tell Us Their Epic Stories

Brands should think about something as basic as the fact that sustainability issues are an additional imperative that must be part of, engage and commit those who interact with them.

It is a continuum that goes beyond the epic of their stories and that, like any experience, should propose a symbolism and rituals that invite us to be part of their experience.

Let us set aside the cancellation processes that are so in vogue today because the solution may not be the one that is acceptable for all of us, because if there was only one possibility, we would lose one of the most important characteristics of our humanness, the ability to create options and make choices.

Seek real solutions - even if they are not ideal - that will make the world a better and more liveable place. Let us take responsibility for our every action and the impact they have. Let us synthesise in brands what companies really and truly are and do.

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Dec 12, 2023

Isn't it interesting that commercial branding consultants responsible for selling striped toothpaste and fizzy drinks, not philosophical opposition, are the ones knocking the wind out of the post-modernist sail? Reality is a beautiful place that we must learn to appreciate to live in. Try to bend it out of shape and you find yourself sleeping in a suitcase! Nice article.

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