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It may be fake news – but when your brand is strong enough, it gets the point across

In a recent Channel 4 survey, only 4% of people were able to correctly identify which of six headlines presented to them were real or fake. Of the six headlines, three were real and three were fake.

One of the headlines was ‘Iceland to host New Year’s Eve party for asylum seekers’, and one was ‘Trump offering free one way tickets to Africa and Mexico for those who want to leave America’.

Both fake? Both true?

The interesting thing here is not the headline, but the intent.

Brand Iceland should know that their headline was picked out as false by some respondents, despite being true.

And that Trump headline is fake. But, as one of the respondents pointed out “it’s very Trumpy”. It totally supports everything he said on the campaign trail, and everything he has done in two rollercoaster months in office. Trump – whatever we think of his policies – is an astonishing brand. He is outrageous and petulant (this footage of his first White House press conference is quite breath taking).

What does his presidential brand strategy look like? His Trumpy Triangle? On his way to his ultimate purpose ‘Make America Great Again’, he has clear values and clear priorities. And a very clear ambition ‘Be the best, most greatest president the world has ever known. Ever. In the world.‘ I’m sure I haven’t quite got the wording right on that ambition – but again, it’s an indication of his strength of brand that I can have a pretty good pop. Even his political tone of voice is well established. In 140 characters.

The other part in this is giving people credit that they take reasonable steps to verify the news they are reading. And are able to call bull on certain stories. And if they don’t call bull? If they simply accept the fake news and move on? Then that’s simply the well-known confirmation bias at work. The great echo-chamber of vigorous agreement.

But in reality, everything is fake news. There is no unbiased news, or unbiased story. Everyone has a viewpoint, a slant to put on the story being told. In this era of ever more outrageous fake news, your brand – personal, or commercial – becomes paramount. What are you doing to make sure that your purpose is clear to all of your people. And that every single decision being taken inside your organisation supports that purpose. What fake news headline could be written for you, but believed. And does that reflect on you well, or not.

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