It’s that time of year again…when we look back and reflect on the year we’ve just experienced. And one true and tried tradition is the word of the year…or should I say words of the year. Each year, Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the Oxford University  uncover the Word of the Year. In 2023, Merriam-Webster crowned “Authentic,” while Oxford University bestowed its honour upon “Rizz.” These two words may seem worlds apart, but understanding their nuances can be a game-changer in the realm of marketing and branding.

Authentic: Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year

I can attest to the fact that the word “Authentic” has undoubtedly been very prevalent in marketing as a buzz word. I for one, use it a lot!…I believe I even wrote a blog about it!  This doesn’t take away for its importance or significance. It’s a good word. It is a word that speaks to the hearts of those seeking genuine experiences in our every evolving and social world. It is all about sincerity, truthfulness, and a deep connection to one’s true self. When we sprinkle a little “Authentic” magic into the world of marketing and branding, something remarkable happens.

When a brand is authentic, it’s wearing being open and honest about its reason of being, its  services, and values. Gen X, Gen Y and yes, even Generation Alpha, demand authenticity in the brands they engage with. They want to know that the companies they support are not just about the profitability and shareholder value… in fact, I’ll go so far as to say that they don’t care about that. They want to support brands that  keep their promises and stay true to their ‘shared’ values. Today’s generations tend to gravitate toward brands that are candid about their practices, and they’re more likely to become brand ambassadors spreading the word to friends and family. Authenticity isn’t just a passing fad; it’s the foundation of a brand’s long-term success and covetted reputation.

Why Authenticity Matters: Why It’s Important

Building Trust: Authentic brands are like trust magnets. When consumers perceive a brand as the real deal, they’re more likely to trust its products and services.

Creating Loyalty: Authenticity isn’t just a one-time thing; it’s a recipe for customer loyalty. When people connect with a brand on a personal level, they tend to become repeat customers.

Word of Mouth: Authenticity fuels the rumour mill—in a good way! Happy customers become brand ambassadors,  recommending authentic brands to others. Positive word-of-mouth marketing can send a brand soaring.

Long-Term Success: Brands that prioritize authenticity are often in it for the long haul. Authenticity is not a passing; it’s the North Star guiding a brand’s identity.

Differentiation: In the crowded marketplace, authenticity becomes your secret weapon. It’s what sets your brand apart from all others. Authenticity goes beyond product features; it’s your brand’s DNA.

Authenticity in Action: Dove

When we talk about authenticity, it’s hard not to mention Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. II would venture to say it was the first real authentic branding campaign way back when. Dove dared to challenge conventional beauty standards and celebrated body positivity. Their commitment to featuring real people in their ads, without any retouching, has struck a chord with consumers seeking authenticity in the beauty industry.

Rizz: Oxford University’s Word of the Year

Switching gears, let’s  talk about  Oxford University’s Word of the Year for 2023.  This year, drumroll, please… it’s “Rizz.”  So what is “Rizz”? It’s the Internet slang term that went viral on YouTube and the TikTok universe. The word is  all about style, charm, and the irresistible ability to attract romantic or even steamy attention.  In simpler terms, “rizz”  means having magnetic charm that makes you a magnet for romantic or sexual interest. In the ever-changing landscape of language it’s very reflective of the in crowd and up and coming generations.

Why “Rizz” Matters: Why It’s Needed

WIth branding in 2024… having “Rizz” is a must and here’s how you can ‘work’ it.

Creating Appeal: Brands can sprinkle some “Rizz” to become more appealing to their target audience. Having that unique charm or charisma in branding draws in audiences with irresistible allure.

Differentiation: “Rizz” is the secret sauce for standing out in a crowded market. Brands that exude a certain “je ne sais quoi”  (attractiveness) can shine brighter and capture the attention of consumers.

Building Emotional Connections: “Rizz” can foster and build emotional connections with customers. Consumers sensing a special allure with a brand are more likely to form strong, positive emotional bonds.

Consumer Engagement: When you infuse “Rizz” (style and cache)  into marketing and branding strategies, people are just more  naturally drawn to those brands, and they’re more likely to interact and engage with such brands.

Exemplifying “Rizz”: Apple

Without a doubt, Apple has mastered the art of creating a seamless “Rizz” experience. Apple products, from iPhones to MacBooks and Apple Watches, sync effortlessly, seamlessly bridging the real and digital worlds. Features like Apple Pay and the App Store further blur the lines between the physical and digital realms. And let’s not forget their packaging—it’s a thing of beauty and joy!

Whether your brand strives for being “Authentic”, or exudes that much coveted “Rizz” either can work wonders in marketing and branding. Both not only create appeal and differentiation which is needed in today’s cluttered market… they also forge deep and  emotional connections with all audiences. The mainstay in marketing is understanding the ever-evolving landscape in which brands need to dominant. That includes the shift and changes of language and cultural trends. That’s the only way for brands to  stay relevant and strike the right chord with their intended audiences.

What are your thoughts on these words of the year…and do you agree?