Authenticity: keeping it real

Bianca Sarafian
5min read

There's something borderline intangible about the 11:FS tone of voice; it's iconoclastic. It's different.

It stands out like a sore thumb in our industry because get away with speaking as actual human beings, and not as a big ol' corporate B2B consultancy.

And that's fantastic.

You'll never catch us coming to your boardroom only to leave you with nothing except a PowerPoint of high-level ideas. We certainly wouldn't be caught streamlining your processes by offshoring your operations. If we say Artificial Intelligence, we actually mean Artificial Intelligence. Sorry, Pepper...

Maybe on occasion we'll say we're getting our ducks in a row, but that one sometimes slips through the net.

But there isn't a secret. What 11:FS is and does from our services, to our podcasts, to our company culture, is built upon being real human beings. We speak like human beings, we act like human beings, and you'll often find our keynotes decorated with memes instead of quadrants.

Are we singing from the same hymn sheet yet?

I remember applying to 11:FS over a year ago. The first thing that stood out to me was the particular vacancy posting that I applied to. I wasn't exactly hunting for jobs at the time, but the listing spoke to me:

"¯\_()_/¯ Not sure what you want to do? Click here."

Click there I did - and boy am I glad, because I found my perfect match. I am unashamedly myself. What I wasn't prepared for when I joined was discovering that the tone of voice online and the attitude to building digital financial services wasn't a marketing gimmick. It wasn't a brand. The humanising attitude goes (as Leda would say) all the way down.

Ah, authenticity.

We can be real and authentic from the get-go, and it's our differentiator. We have built that brand permission

As a marketer, authenticity presents an interesting juxtaposition in your day-to-day. The two don't usually go hand-in-hand, because marketing authenticity is somewhat of an oxymoron.

In all sectors, brands are constantly vying for attention. It's a juggling act of showcasing their offerings, getting attention on their products, and promoting their services in the most appealing way possible. Negative commentary must be ignored or swept under the rug. Everything must be thoroughly calculated, and we must dehumanise our audiences into a broad swathe of ABCs or...yes, I’m going to say it. The Millennials™.

This model is long dead.

Emerging fintech companies are embracing authenticity and transparency in a way that incumbent organisations are utterly unable to comprehend or compete with - and so are we. Incumbent brands have already spent decades carefully crafting gated communications and objectifying consumers without a need to generate a real connection with them. And when they do need to make that connection, it's too late. The customers have already given up on humanising the brand, the negative connotations are already deep-rooted.

New market entrants, including ourselves, have capitalised on the fact that incumbent audiences will rarely ever shift perception. We can be real and authentic from the get-go, and it's our differentiator. We have built that brand permission.

An organisation who has based their communication on formally-worded letters full of Whom's't'd's can try and pivot their tone of voice, but the historic inauthenticity of their brand message will always overrun it. And because they lack the brand permission, it comes across a weirdly creepy when they do try to connect. People do not like to feel influenced.

That’s our main marketing tactic. Being real. Being honest about the issues in our industry.

Authentic marketing sits best in authentic companies that are built by humans, for humans. 11:FS is united by a common goal with our clients and our podcast audiences: to make banking better.

And that's not a mission statement. That's our job. And we love it.

The landscape is changing for brands. Authenticity and the use of colloquialisms supports community building, which aids brand ambassadors, who help establish and maintain your authenticity with the shared passion for your services.

That’s our main marketing tactic. Being real. Being honest about the issues in our industry. Maybe dropping an f-bomb every now and again in a keynote.

So, are we aligned?

11:FS isn't just different, it's real. And this is a strange comment coming from someone in the marketing department, but it really isn't marketing.

It's just the truth.

Digital Banking is only 1% finished, and we are the team who are going to fix that.