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Let’s Talk: Experts lay out ways to build an authentic brand experience and win more customers

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Let’s Talk: Experts lay out ways to build an authentic brand experience and win more customers

The modern consumer is informed, tech-savvy, and inquisitive. You can now be seen by customers even when they are not paying attention.

A brand that chooses to be open and consistent in its messaging and branding strategies is considered authentic. It is honest, the most important quality, and it upholds certain corporate standards.

Do you know what might happen when consumers do not believe in a brand or do not believe it to be genuine? They typically begin exploring other products that they can rely on.

In this week’s Let’s Talk, we asked our experts to discuss how to boost a brand’s credibility and authenticity.

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Christa Quarles, CEO, Corel Corporation

Christa Quarles
Christa Quarles, CEO, Corel Corporation

“In an age of scepticism, customers are losing faith in brands. And when your customers don’t trust you, they start looking for brands they can. The relationship customers have with the brands they love is one that is personal and trustworthy. And the only way your company’s brand can feel true to your customers is if it feels true to yourself.

“As a CEO, I’m responsible for transmitting these values to my employees because a business’ reputation cannot survive without positive internal culture. Establishing a company culture that aligns with the business values creates individual purpose into what they’re working towards and why it matters. A fantastic internal culture drives people to do great work. And when people love what they do, they are driven to perform better. And that means better business outcomes. Set communication strategies and marketing campaigns are great. But we cannot forget the power of the collective voice of our employees. Anything a business presents externally is a reflection of that internal work. And that’s why it’s so valuable.”

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David Ray, Reddit’s Market Director for Australia

David Ray
David Ray, Reddit’s Market Director for Australia, Reddit

“Authenticity can often feel like a marketing buzzword but the truth is it’s never been more important for a brand to show up in a real and credible way. It’s no longer enough to simply deliver a good product or service, people want to understand a brand’s values, and they want to support those that align with their own. What I’ve learned from my time at Reddit is that communities are home to the most honest and real conversations on the internet. No matter the topic or interest, online communities provide a space for real world connection and belonging and in turn, a highly compelling opportunity for brands to participate.

“Brands looking to improve credibility and authenticity should look beyond campaigns and activations and focus on meeting people where they are already engaged in passionate exchanges about the things they care about: within online communities. Those that contribute and add value to these exchanges will drive meaningful, lasting impact.”

Kristen Pimpini, Regional Vice President ANZ, Twilio

Kristen Pimpini
Kristen Pimpini, Regional Vice President ANZ, Twilio

“According to recent Twilio research, personalisation is at the heart of creating a credible and authentic brand. These efforts may include personalised product recommendations, relevant offers and discounts, or a seamless experience across all channels (website, mobile, social media, etc.). Our research shows 62% of consumers expect personalisation, saying that a brand will lose their loyalty if their experience is not personalised — meanwhile, 49% will become repeat buyers if personalisation is offered.

“Although consumers prefer personalisation, there is a delicate balance when it comes to curating digital experiences. Our data shows that data protection and privacy are top of mind for today’s consumers as they grow wary of communication that feels invasive and a lack of trust is increasingly affecting consumer buying decisions: 60% of consumers say trustworthiness and transparency are the most important traits of a brand, up from 55% in 2021.

“The key to increasing consumer trust in personalisation is using first-party data, and cutting out the middleman. 63% of consumers say they are fine with personalisation as long as brands are using their own data and not purchased data.”

Lisl Pietersz, Transition and Communication Coach, University of Sydney

Lisl-Pietersz
Lisl Pietersz, Transition and Communication Coach, University of Sydney

“Business owners seeking to improve the credibility and authenticity of their brand need to go beyond offering a great product or service. The focus must turn to deepening trust with customers, and this is best achieved by showcasing the brand’s trustworthiness. Consider these marketing-communications tips:

  • Create and share your genuine brand story well. Securing positive media coverage boosts customer perceptions about your brand and its claims, and is a great way to improve your credibility and authenticity. Other ways to enhance your brand’s credibility include regularly posting updates on your social media channels and cultivating online customer reviews.
  • Build authentic brand messages and use them consistently. Your brand messages must have the right balance of data and emotion to tell your genuine story in bite size pieces. It is critical to use your brand messages consistently so customers can see who you are and the value you provide versus your competitors.
  • Demonstrate your value. Tell your customers about the good your brand does and the bigger purpose it serves. This is an opportunity to build an emotional connection with your customers and tell them that your brand is more than the product or service they use.

“By continuously implementing these tips, you will improve your brand’s credibility and authenticity which is an ongoing journey.”

Sumir Bhatia, President – Asia Pacific – Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG), Lenovo

Sumir Bhatia
Sumir Bhatia, President – Asia Pacific – Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG), Lenovo

“Recently, I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to travel again. Meeting customers, channel & alliance partners in person helps us cultivate stronger ties and really support partner in their progress. We believe that fostering relationships that go beyond the transactional are critical for strengthening customer confidence and trust. People like to work with people who spend time to truly understand their unique requirements, and deliver reliable & innovative solutions. We can proudly say that our customer-centric approach and ability to offer end-to-end customized infrastructure have helped many businesses realize intelligent transformation and future-proof their business.

“Simply offering technology is not enough. Businesses today work with a purpose – maintaining their ESG standards and working with partners committed to sustainable solutions. Delivering on this promise makes your business stand out because innovation only matters if it makes a difference.

“And lastly, but importantly, take care of your internal stakeholders – the employees. Recognizing and appreciating their hard work and offering avenues for growth is the way to create the best place to work. Happy & motivated employees will keep the brand promise, bring credibility and foster positive customer engagement.

“We stand for all of this today. Our fast-growing customer base in AP & Australia is seeing value in partnering with Lenovo, making it one of the world’s fastest-growing infrastructure solution providers.”

Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

Merlin Luck
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

“Building trusted and authentic customer relationships is critical to small business success in today’s digital-first world. But the proliferation of digital channels and a shift to online engagement means they must rethink how to humanise the online experience.

“With 80 per cent of customers today ranking overall experience on par with the actual products and services provided, businesses need to double down on their customer experience strategies. Improving these strategies requires a shift to data-driven business models, centralising customer data across different teams to create connected, seamless and personalised customer experiences.

“For example, My Muscle Chef implemented Salesforce and now personalises content to build seamless customer journeys. Its website includes meal plans tailored to different goals, and a tool customers can use to build their own. By understanding its customers beyond just the surface, it’s increased online revenue by 40 per cent.

“When businesses show that they know their customers through personalised experiences, they can build meaningful and long-lasting customer relationships.”

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Jennifer Graham, Head of Brand & Comms, RMIT Online

Jennifer Graham
Jennifer Graham, Head of Brand & Comms, RMIT Online

“The truth is, there is no silver bullet. Building a brand’s credibility cannot be built overnight, or in silo.

“The first step is identifying how you’re perceived by your customers and the community. Secondly, regardless of the outcome, consistency and transparency will help improve your brand’s authenticity and credibility.

  1. Be consistent across all areas of your business – Standing behind your mission, values, and purpose is the single most important thing in creating an authentic brand.
  2. Honesty is the best policy – Consumers want to shop with the confidence of knowing what they see is what they’ll get. This includes products, services, corporate practices and brand values.

“Establishing, improving, or maintaining credibility must be a commitment held by the entire organisation across every aspect of the businesses internal, supplier and customer interactions. If done well, a high level of credibility and authenticity feeds into a willingness to trust the brand, which has a roll on effect for sales, customer loyalty, recruitment, staff morale and more.”

Shannon Ingrey, Vice President and General Manager APAC, BigCommerce

Shannon-Ingrey
Shannon Ingrey, Vice President and General Manager APAC, BigCommerce

“It boils down to building trust and rapport with customers. For starters, brands should practice being transparent and consistent in their communication when engaging with customers. Trust is one of the most influential factors when it comes to building brand loyalty and ultimately making that sale.

“Having a review system can also help brands validate their authenticity and credibility to customers. Negative reviews should be seen as an opportunity, not a liability because it gives them a chance to demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction. Brands who proactively respond to reviews, both positive and negative, showcase that they take feedback seriously and demonstrate that even if something isn’t right, the customer is heard and will be cared for properly.

“By acknowledging customer feedback publicly, brands show they’re actively working to improve their customer experiences where necessary. Sometimes services require some fine-tuning and changes to be made. Brands who take the initiative to acknowledge this through transparent communication shouldn’t be prone to miss the mark to build authenticity, loyalty and credibility with customers.”

Dave Patnaik, Head of Asia Pacific & Japan, Forescout

Dave Patnaik
Dave Patnaik, Head of Asia Pacific & Japan, Forescout

“It’s impossible to improve credibility and authenticity without first addressing the notion of trust. All relationships, business or otherwise, are built on this foundation. When a customer gives a business their data, whether its financial details, personally identifiable information (PII) or anything else, they trust the business to use it, store it, and dispose of it responsibly, and that it won’t end up in the hands of any third parties, or worse, cybercriminals.

“Establishing a brand that has proper cybersecurity measures and solutions in place is therefore crucial to a business’ credibility and their financial viability. In fact, 87% of Australian consumers will take their business elsewhere following a data breach, with almost half willing to pay more for data protection. Cybersecurity is no longer a technical issue, but a business priority. It only takes one ransomware attack, data leak or security breach to potentially permanently damage a brand’s reputation, lose customers and cause long-lasting damage to a business’s credibility.”

Shiva Pillay, General Manager and Senior Vice President APJ, Veeam

Shiva Pillay
Shiva Pillay, General Manager and Senior Vice President APJ, Veeam

“For business leaders, consistency is the key to building credibility and authenticity for a brand.

“After dealing with uncertainty and volatility for some time now, we have learned that we cannot control external events or circumstances. What we can control is the way we interact, react and respond to effort to both internal (employees) and external (customers, partners) parties.

“Less time worrying about how a business leader is going to take charge provides employees more time to focus on servicing customers. Just as importantly, the by-product of this is the respect leaders gain from their employees – because inconsistency breeds fear.

“At Veeam, we place strong emphasis on consistency and transparency. This ensures predictability, as your team is fully informed of priorities and non-negotiables. If you can anticipate how likely a leader will lead, that results in credibility and authenticity.

“Leaders that invest time in consistency teach their teams to maintain a stable presence with consumers, translating into enhanced brand credibility and authenticity.”

Karina Guerra, Head of Customer Intelligence, Xref

Karina Guerra
Karina Guerra, Head of Customer Intelligence, Xref

“We believe that credibility and authenticity come from being readily accessible to our customers and showing who we really are.

“Three things that work well for Xref to illustrate our credibility and authenticity include:

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  1. Be accessible to your customers. Our customers love our Customer Success team, we are available 24/7. Welcoming feedback and acting on recommendations is key for your branding strategy.
  1. Show who you are. You will see our team members in different parts of the world sharing messages across multiple channels. Show your company culture as well as your personal stories.
  1. Follow your values. When a team believes in your corporate values, your organisation’s credibility is reflected. Be proud of the values that define who you are.

“Your customers will recognise your organisation as credible when you care about your customers’ needs. Always keep your customers as #1 priority. Dare to show your own personality!”

Marco Zande, Head of Marketing, WLTH

Marco Zande
Marco Zande, Head of Marketing, WLTH

“With so many different options and competition in the market, the credibility and authenticity of your brand can often be the differentiating factor for your company. A business often cannot survive without them, and is the foundation of the trust needed for customers to keep coming back. Here are 3 tips:

  1. Be transparent in your marketing and communications.

    Be upfront about what you’re selling, and don’t try to hide the details. If you’re not transparent, people may feel like they’ve been misled, and that can damage your reputation. Make sure people are aware of how you’re collecting their data, what you’re using it for, and how they can opt out if they want to. Be open about any changes or updates to your privacy policy, and give people an easy way to contact you with any questions or concerns.
  1. Be consistent in your message and image across all channels.

    Be clear about what you’re offering, and make sure that your messaging is consistent across all channels. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep, and be honest about any potential risks involved. If something goes wrong, own up to it and take responsibility. People will appreciate your honesty and be more likely to trust you in the future.
  1. Use customer testimonials, reviews, and endorsements to build credibility and trust.

    When you’re considering doing business with a new company, one of the first things you probably do is read customer reviews to get an idea of what others think about their products or services. And when you see a long list of positive reviews, it can definitely help build trust and credibility in that business. But customer testimonials and endorsements aren’t just useful for potential customers – they can also be helpful for your business in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO).”

Mark Randall, Country Manager ANZ, WP Engine

Mark Randall
Mark Randall, Country Manager ANZ, WP Engine

“Your website is usually the first interaction your customer has with your brand. One click, and perceptions begin to form, whether positive or negative.

“With more customers accelerating their online presence in the past couple of years, your website needs to embody the persona of your brand. It’s important to build your brand identity across multiple platforms and ensure your website matches this. You want your customers to see your website and immediately know what style, personality and service they are going to receive.

“Brands that don’t invest in their websites don’t realise the opportunities they are missing out on. If your website is lagging, features old themes or puts visitors at risk, your reputation is likely to be impacted. The need to invest time, energy and cost into a website cannot be overstated. Your investment will be worth every cent and your brand will thrive because of it.”

Laura Osti, Chief Marketing Officer, Tic:Toc

Laura Osti
Laura Osti, Chief Marketing Officer, Tic:Toc

“I believe in ‘glass box brands’ – when customers can see and feel that an organisation’s purpose is baked into its operating system, culture and values, they know it’s authentic.

“The first thing to do is ensure you’re prioritising culture and operationalising your purpose. Get this right and make value-based decisions to guide the business in line with that purpose.  It will help you maintain a leadership position if your product and experience features become less unique in market.

“Second, ensure your employees are as big an advocate of the brand as your customers – this engenders a more powerful brand halo than a ‘trust-building’ PR campaign.

“Third, take a step back and regularly assess your brand through the lens of your customer. Being connected to what people think and say about your brand and product will help inform how you’re doing against your purpose and strategy.

“Lastly, work on consistency –  someone will only hear what you’re saying if you say it a thousand times . When talking about your brand, use statistics and real quotes from customers, your employees and third parties  to talk about your brand so you don’t have to.”

Debra Sutton, Regional Vice President Marketing APAC, WalkMe

Debra Sutton
Debra Sutton, Regional Vice President Marketing APAC, WalkMe

“There are many components to brand building – the story telling, the campaigns, social, content, PR etc, however a large part of brand credibility and authenticity is in the hands of your employees – the people who connect with your customers every day.  Your staff that are on the frontline doing the selling, the customer support and customer service.  These people are your walking, talking brand and how they interact with customers is where we win and lose our brand credibility. The knock on effect of this influences the authentic experience of your customers and their perception of your product or offering.

“Organisational leadership plays a huge role here. Businesses with great reputations are now focusing on employee experiences, setting their people up for success and creating an environment that is a happy, healthy, productive workplace. This respect for their people inspires employees to behave in the same manner and becomes a real contributor to building a great brand. So much stems from the inside out.”

Patrick Tripp, SVP of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital

Patrick Tripp
Patrick Tripp, SVP of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital

“Brand credibility is driven by trust. And when it comes to marketing, it’s very easy for brands to lose trust with consumers. If a customer voluntarily provides information through an opted-in channel, they have signaled that they have some trust in your brand. However, we see many brands erode that trust very quickly.

“Trust can be eroded through the misuse of data, incorrect data or lack of data use. If you don’t think about why you communicate with a customer the way you do, you will inevitably misuse this information. You will start to share data in the wrong channels or communicate with someone who has told you not to communicate with them.

“Even more, any time a marketing communication moves beyond a transactional relationship into something sinister, it jeopardizes trust. According to Cheetah Digital’s 2022 Consumer Trends Index, 62% of consumers say that ads derived from cookie tracking are creepy.

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“All in all, the best way to build trust is to only collect data that you will use, be very transparent about how you will use it, and give the customer full control.”

Sharon Crombie, CEO and Founder, MicroChilli

Sharon Crombie
Sharon Crombie, CEO and Founder, MicroChilli

“First things first, consider your ideal client or customer, and then get to know everything about them. Demographics are important, but aim to look beyond these, and consider factors such as what their biggest challenges are, and which products and services will add genuine value to them.

“Then, know that it’s okay if creating a brand design and tone of voice, as well as rolling it out isn’t in your wheelhouse (consistency of message is vitally important here). Treat this as a long-term investment, and look to the experts. Share your thoughts, views and research with them, to ensure what they create reflects all that you’re about, and resonates with your audience.

“I took this approach when launching MicroChilli, which resulted in a bold, bright and fun brand that not only I love, it connects with entrepreneurs and small business owners, and is a little left of centre when it comes to the accounting and bookkeeping industry. Some may say it’s unprofessional for the sector, however if you remember who your target audience is, put yourself in their shoes, and commit to consistency across every aspect of your brand, you’ll achieve both long-term credibility and authenticity.”

Victoria Berry, head of strategy, FutureBrand Australia

Victoria Berry
Victoria Berry, head of strategy, FutureBrand Australia

“Inundated with information, choices and distractions, authenticity can be a currency to stand out. But it’s not enough to say, ‘trust me, I’m authentic’, brands must show it in all the key moments, big and small.

“Here are three ways to make those moments matter:

  • Incredible is more than credible

    Being credible is valuable, but being incredible is memorable. Regularly revisiting and evolving how people experience your brand for the better shows you’re alive to fresh opportunities, and the only ones who can do what you do.
  • Genuine is better than perfect

    Facts and data are helpful, but if you want people to do something, make them feel something. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, for employees or customers, emotion is still the number one driver of choice and loyalty.
  • Authenticity is defined by experience

    Strong brands are created with purpose but ultimately defined every day by the experience. Consistently ‘walking the talk’ gives your brand a measurable competitive advantage so that more people will want to work for or buy from you.”

Josh Dyson, Vice President of UX and Design, Marketplacer

Josh Dyson
Josh Dyson, Vice President of UX and Design, Marketplacer

“You can kill two birds with one stone, focus on authenticity, and credibility will follow.

“Embracing your core value offering is paramount to success in many aspects of business, focus on what you know your business excels in. Everything becomes transparent at some point. The more clarity you can create up-front, the better, ultimately you will be found out if you are not true to your core values.

“Oversell is a common symptom of a business not being content with their existing value offering. This can severely damage your brand if you fail to deliver on the expectations that have been sold.

“Your brand is made up of many moving parts: Culture, Intention, Aspiration. More importantly, brand represents your business’s identity. What makes your business different from the rest?

“At Marketplacer we challenge our decisions and direction on a regular basis to ensure we meet the standards, aspirations and intentions of our brand. For us, our brand is something that not only represents us externally, but we rely on it for guidance internally.

“To go full circle, authenticity can often be the major difference between you and your competitors, which is why you should always be realistic and relatable. For me, that is the key to improving credibility and authenticity of your brand.”

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Yosuke Hall, Chief Commercial Officer, Carma

Yosuke Hall
Yosuke Hall, Chief Commercial Officer, Carma

“Being authentic means being relatable, making things simple for the customer and delivering on your brand promise. Credibility comes when you maintain a relentless focus on these three points.

“At Carma, we sell used vehicles and we know that to be authentic, we need to be fully transparent about the condition of the vehicle. That’s why we include photos of every imperfection for all our cars listed for sale. That way when a customer takes delivery, there are no surprises, and our brand promise rings true. The great experience we provide to the customer and the validation that they can trust the car details on our site is what then builds credibility.

“The secret really is in keeping it simple for the customer. Focus on a few things and do them really well, even if that means things are complex for you and your team in the back-end. Some of the most-loved brands are known for their simplicity and amazing customer experience. Over-delivering on these two points is a huge cornerstone of credibility and something we strive for every day.”

Paris Young, Founder, Pascal Satori

Paris Young
Paris Young, Founder, Pascal Satori

“Splashing millions of dollars on ads, and spraying your brand and logo onto any available blank canvas will not necessarily equate to credibility or authenticity.

“You know the saying: If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. And really when it comes down to brand, there is no more appropriate mantra. In order to improve the credibility and authenticity of your brand, you need to ensure you have a clear strategy for who you are, why you exist and how you will act; and then ensure all of your messages, products, services, partnerships and visuals reinforce that strategy. Brand must be seen as a lense through which you filter your business strategy, and then you will craft a world that your customers are loyal to, and that sets you apart from the competition.

“You can improve from where you are right now, simply by starting with a brand strategy. Then look at everything objectively in its current state, identify what matches up, and what needs to change, and then make a plan to bring it all into alignment.”

Jonathan Ryan, Regional Manager APAC, Infobip

Jonathan Ryan
Jonathan Ryan, Regional Manager APAC, Infobip

“The key to proving your authenticity and credibility is through communication. You can say whatever you want, but if you aren’t reaching the people that need to hear it, via the channels where they reside, what’s the point?

“Consumers are increasingly concerning themselves with the ethics and values of the brands they support through purchases. If your actions don’t align with consumers, you’ll suffer accordingly. To show that you’re not just talking the talk, but walking the walk, you need to diversify your communication strategies and meet the consumer on whatever channel they prefer to use on their device of choice.  Multi-channel cloud-based communication platforms allow brands to speak to consumers with the messages they want to hear, on the channel they prefer, at the times when they are most receptive, allowing your brand to build authentic interactions without barriers. Consumers trust brands they can reach, and by enabling accessibility to your brand across various platforms, your relationship with customers will bloom.”

Blair Crawford, CEO Co-Founder, Daltrey

Blair Crawford
Blair Crawford, CEO Co-Founder, Daltrey

“From day one we made a conscious decision to set up the business according to the B Corp framework, as we are committed to joining the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Unlike other certifications for businesses, B Corp is unique in its ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.

“We encourage other businesses wanting to improve the credibility and authenticity of their brand to achieve B Corp certification and demonstrate high social and environmental performance and assure that customers, community, suppliers, partners, investors and employees can have high confidence in your belief and purpose.

“Daltrey entered a legal commitment and has a corporate governance structure that is accountable to stakeholders and shareholders, and exhibits transparency by allowing information about their performance to be measured against B Lab’s standards which are publicly available on their B Corp website profile.”

Paul North, Senior Vice President APJ, Optimizely

Paul North
Paul North, Senior Vice President APJ, Optimizely

“With the digital landscape rapidly changing and customer expectations continuing to climb, building the credibility and authenticity of your brand is essential.

“Since the channels customers want to experience your brand on are innumerable and growing, you need to implement the right tools to enhance the digital experience. Investing in solutions like digital experience platforms (DXP) can improve the customer experience and, by doing so, strengthen the authenticity of your brand. DXP not only analyses customer data, but it also uses data analysis insights to customise the digital experience for each consumer across different channels.

“Creating personalised digital experiences further deepens your credibility. When you tailor the digital experience, you demonstrate a deep understanding of your customers, including their preferences, pain points and motivations. If you can illustrate that your brand is trustworthy, high-quality, and connected to its values, you can better connect with your customers, build your brand and stay ahead of the competition.”

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Graham Glass, CEO, CYPHER LEARNING

Graham-Glass
Graham Glass, CEO, CYPHER LEARNING

“The first thing to always keep in mind when building a brand is that it takes time. Even the smallest of actions, such as adding your logo and tagline to your email signature can have an impact later on. It is also essential that your company’s mission and vision for the future transpire through your actions. Never forget that your employees are the first people you need to get buy-in from – if they see that you walk the walk and take the talk, this is likely to be mirrored by partners and clients too.

“Additionally, if you have a personal brand as a leader, you have to keep it aligned with that of your company as your personal followers can easily transition to being followers of your company. Last but not least, be consistent with what you market, in all forms, and across all the channels you choose to promote your brand. Overtime, this will help build and consolidate your brand’s credibility and naturally improve authenticity.”

Jemma Healy, Senior Marketing Specialist, Tecala

Jemma Healy
Jemma Healy, Senior Marketing Specialist, Tecala

“In a world of digital marketing and online selling, it’s easy to forget that ultimately, people will always buy people.

“Not only do customers need to see and understand your expertise, but fundamentally they need to like you, your personality, and your values.

“Companies that embody their values throughout their organisation, and use these to build culture and rapport, are most impactful.

“Companies need to deliver an authentic message, in the right way, to the right people, and at the right time.  You can do this in five key ways:

  1. Culture – Profitability and customer loyalty is intrinsically linked to employee satisfaction. Create an environment of support, encouragement and collaboration.
  2. Credibility – Provide consistent messaging that echoes your brand values and educates prospective buyers through ungated content, so that consumers trust and remember you.
  3. Advocacy – From your clients, to the leaders in the business, to the latest hire, actively enable and encourage all people that interact with your brand to be a voice of the brand.
  4. Consistency – Through every touchpoint and every stakeholder, empower consistency through a clear brand identity and messaging.
  5. Measurement – Constantly question and rethink strategies to improve and optimise.”

James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic

James-Campbell
James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic

“Data integration platforms can help any brand improve its credibility and authenticity. They provide brands with the required data mappings and migrations between standard fields, which minimises the number of data errors. This is so important because data errors can be extremely costly for any business and not just in a monetary sense. Aside from exhausting financial resources, poor data quality can negatively reflect on a brand’s credibility.

“To compete in today’s world, a brand must connect its data and applications and be able to do so efficiently and quickly. Automating business processes, both small and large, is the only way to achieve the speed and responsiveness required to meet today’s customer expectations — for fast, accurate and real-time results.”

Trena Blair, CEO, FD Global Connections

Trena Blair
Trena Blair, CEO, FD Global Connections

Trustworthiness and proven expertise the key to brand credibility. Enhancing the credibility of your business requires two core ingredients – trustworthiness and proven expertise.

“Here are three simple steps to enhance your brand’s credibility:

  • Step 1. Deliver as promised

    When you make a particular claim about your product or service – ensure to deliver as promised.  Each touch point with your customer should exceed their expectations and align with your service promises.  Delivering on your word serves as the foundation towards long term trust and loyalty.
  • Step 2. Demonstrate competence

    Marketing magicians can often make bold claims about a product or service.  Yet do you have the testimonials and data to prove it?!  Customers feel assured when they see tangible results, testimonials and a proven track record.  Think of ways to demonstrate and highlight your core competencies.
  • Step 3. Consistency is key

    Establishing credibility requires consistency.  If your customers’ first encounter with your company was outstanding; yet their second encounter below par – the credibility you established soon dissolves.  Ensure every aspect of your service promise aligns with your business operations.  Consistency drives loyalty, making it the key to improving brand credibility.”

Kate Toon, Founder, Stay Tooned

Kate Toon
Kate Toon, Founder, Stay Tooned

“These days credibility and authenticity are everything. Customers want to see the person behind the brand, they want to buy from people whose values align with their own.

“My advice is to share more. The highs and the woes. Not just a constant stream of successes and perfectly posed photos.

“Also try to put the ‘sell’ into the mouths of others, via testimonials, client examples and case studies. It’s easier for a customer to talk about your awesomeness than for you to do it.

“Share real results if you have time, who doesn’t love a chart. Tell the story and show the transformation you’ve helped others achieve.

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“Finally, behind the scenes content works really well to help establish trust – especially on Reels and Instagram stories. I think we’re tired of the pretty polished business approach, we want relatability and realness, and while it may feel uncomfy at first. It gets easier.”

David Nemes, Regional Director APAC, Templafy

David Nemes
David Nemes, Regional Director APAC, Templafy

“The key to building a credible and authentic brand is consistency. In today’s crowded marketplace, communicating a consistent brand image allows your business to become instantly more recognisable and memorable to target audiences. It fosters a feeling of trust and an understanding of what your brand offers and stands for.

“In today’s world, the best way to foster consistency with your brand is by safeguarding it in all its content. Content is the lifeblood of business and if the same look, feel and messaging isn’t coming across in every piece of content, your brand credibility is at risk. To solve for this, organisations should look to implement tools like content enablement solutions, to intelligently connect the latest, approved content directly to people and workflows – allowing them to create content more efficiently and at a higher quality.

“It’s also important that people identify with the message of your brand and form emotional connections. To achieve this, your brand must match your audience’s attitudes, values and beliefs – once again, in a genuine and authentic way. Many brands have inserted themselves into conversations or topics they shouldn’t have, purely to stay relevant or top of mind, which has in turn hurt their image. It is essential to forge real connections and present a consistent brand image, so you can strengthen the credibility of your brand and build authentic relationships with your customers.”

Felicity Heath, Associate Director, Daymark

Felicity Heath
Felicity Heath, Associate Director, Daymark

“Authenticity today needs to be dynamic, multi-faceted, and importantly, transparent. At its very core, it needs to reflect the company’s mission and values, but these values need to be on display and lived consistently.

“When you tell your story, show your human side to key audiences. Is there a community program or commitment that can be established that reflects company values? How is your business giving back? Use real (not stock) images of your team and your product or service in-action when you can. Recruit other authentic voices for your content channels.

“Be transparent, honest and consistent in all messaging and communication initiatives. Ensure your CSR credentials are up to date, monitored, and match the expectations of employees, customers and other stakeholders. Use social proof like customer testimonials and reviews to break down barriers, and as evidence that stakeholders appreciate your brand.

“Continue to assess reputation risks by listening to key audiences and stakeholders using community engagement, audience research methods, stakeholder surveys, social listening and reputation risk assessment tools.

“Building an authentic voice with key audiences that infuses transparency and displays company values in action will ensure it is resilient and that it continues to resonate with stakeholders, even in a fragmented and noisy media landscape.”

Julissa Shrewsbury, Team & Personal Branding Speaker & Author – Director, New Work Consulting

Julissa Shrewsbury
Julissa Shrewsbury, Team & Personal Branding Speaker & Author – Director, New Work Consulting

“Customers and audiences today expect to interact with brands that are authentic in their purpose and promise. The fanciest marketing in the world will not make up for a business that doesn’t deliver on what it says it’s all about!

“Creating a credible and authentic brand of course starts with your internal people and systems, to ensure you are in fact delivering on your brand promise. If you are confident you have a genuinely great, trustworthy business, you should then structure your brand communications to include:

  • A clear and visible Purpose that you, your team and your customers can connect to.
  • A real Value Proposition: What do you deliver that customers really value?
  • A ‘Human’ way of communicating your message, so that audiences personally connect with your brand.

“When it comes to personal branding, people can have roadblocks to communicating their strengths because they don’t want to come across as too self-promotional, inauthentic or ‘showy’. To some, the term ‘personal brand’ sounds fake! It’s more helpful to think of personal branding like you would a business brand – how do you clearly communicate the value you genuinely bring to people with your strengths and skills? Great personal branding is not about creating a ‘rockstar’ image, making you look like something you’re not. It’s about highlighting your authentic best self.”

Ian Jensen-Muir, CEO, Genesis Health + Fitness

Ian Jensen-Muir
Ian Jensen-Muir, CEO, Genesis Health + Fitness

“Improving credibility and authenticity means building trust, and trustworthiness grows from being ‘real’.

“Being real starts with a clear definition of who you are as a brand, your mission and values. For us, for example, it’s about providing a comfortable, non-judgemental and welcoming space where people can achieve their goals. This drives everything we say and do, every process, every decision.

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“Being real also means saying what you need to say in a simple and authentic way, being consistent with your voice and always transparent. Your customers will appreciate honesty, even when the news you’re delivering may be less than ideal. Share real stories and have different avenues for your clients to make connections with the business and with each other.

“Most importantly, do what you say you’re going to do and be who you advertise yourself to be – or ‘walk the talk’. If you don’t, your values crumble, your promises are empty and the trust is gone.”

Rebecca Veksler, Founder, Sol Cups and Host of the The Sustainable Speaker Series podcast

Rebecca Veksler
Rebecca Veksler, Founder, Sol Cups and Host of the The Sustainable Speaker Series podcast

“Having credibility and creating authentic communications are the primary foundations of any successful business: credibility and authenticity will support the longevity of your business. It all starts with having an absolute certainty and deep understanding of your own business values, and the mission of the business. You must clearly define the solution you are creating and the value-add that justifies your brand’s existence. The next step is about communicating this solution and value in a way that your customers, suppliers, employees, and community will receive, relate and connect to.

“There are so many layers to what can make a company credible. For my company SoL Cups, physical manufacturing or production of my product is where I seek authenticity – through ensuring we meet certification standards, setting high quality control requirements and consistent communication with my manufacturer to ensure our expectations are being met. You then need to ensure these standards are not only visible, but being communicated effectively to your community.

“This is just the bare minimum when it comes to this conversation and there are so many practical ways to improve credibility over time, the goal is to consistently and frequently take steps to improve over time. You need to have the intention to consistently improve your processes and ensure they are reassessed frequently as your business grows and scales.”

Cate Tumewa, Founder, GimmeNow

Cate Tumewa
Cate Tumewa, Founder, GimmeNow

“Simply put, brand credibility is being true to your message – did you fulfil what you promised? And brand authenticity is being true to your values – did you fulfil what you set out to do?

“They go hand in hand in building customer trust and loyalty. Like at GimmeNow, where our promise to deliver your online shopping within two hours is equally important as our goal to use automation to help more busy Australians.

“So how do you improve brand credibility and authenticity?

  1. Be crystal clear on your promise – Create a simple message, so customers know exactly what to expect. And test this out with independent parties.
  2. Deliver on your promise – Do what you say you’d do. That’s the only way to build trust and loyalty.
  3. Learn from mistakes. Keep listening to feedback, even when it can sometimes hurt. Acknowledge the feedback – respond and act. You’ll come back better and stronger.
  4. Network with experienced people from great brands – you’ll be surprised how much they enjoy sharing their knowledge and how much you can learn.
  5. Be the expert in your field – keep on top of your game with continuous professional development.”

Ian Schubach, CEO, Red Leaf

Ian Schubach
Ian Schubach, CEO, Red Leaf

“As a leader of adventure expeditions around the world, I believe both the personal brand and team brand are crucial in building work-related confidence.

“For me, there are three key points that help define these:

  • Cultivate high levels of trust. Credibility is at the core of trust, earned through the character and competence of a brand. It considers the intents behind practices, words reflecting actions and a track record of success. It is impossible to build a powerful team or personal brand when there are low levels of trust.
  • Develop absolute clarity. Clarity is used to define who teams and individuals are and, importantly, who they aren’t. It is not a list of idealistic virtues but a short statement about what you stand for and what makes you unique. Being clear helps strengthen your brand, making it easier for others to work with you.
  • Be genuine. We are all fallible; it is part of the perfection process. The trick is to communicate regularly and adopt a growth mindset – be open to learning. Others will cut you slack if they see your authenticity and your primary focus is to create a positive impact. Authenticity is a superpower when it comes to personal or team branding.”

Bruce Macfarlane, Interim CEO and Director, Energy Action

Bruce-Macfarlane
Bruce Macfarlane, Interim CEO and Director, Energy Action

“Without brand credibility and authenticity, your business proposition is meaningless. Customer demand should drive business strategy. Connecting their voices with what your business stands for drives success with customers, employees, and shareholders.

“One of our biggest community challenges today is meeting environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) objectives. Recent research from Mastercard reveals 76 per cent of Australian organisations identify sustainability as critical for success in their industry. Moreover, almost half of workers revealed they would not work for an employer who didn’t have an active sustainability plan in place.

“While its clear businesses are opening their eyes to the importance of sustainable practices, such as cutting down energy and emissions, they need to be acting now. Certifications, such as Climate Active, can lead to not only positive social outcomes, but also positive financial results in the long term. The first step is getting board-level commitment to investment in renewable energy, to ultimately achieve the goal of net zero certification.”

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George Shillito, Commercial Director, Red Paddle Co

George Shillito
George Shillito, Commercial Director, Red Paddle Co

“At Red Paddle Co, our main focus has and will always be product knowledge and design. Inflatable paddle boards are incredibly complex products to produce and require numerous supplier tiers to create the final product. Raw materials and component supply considerations are crucial not only for the hero product but auxiliary products such as pumps, leashes, paddles and bags which go into the final package. In this case, the only option is to have complete understanding of every element, no matter how small, in terms of both form and function and that starts with product design.

“Much of our supply chain issues are tested and smoothed out during the design and sampling stage by working with the same trusted suppliers we have been working with since the beginning. Our inhouse design team have weekly meetings with all suppliers to ensure we work closely with the production teams and factor in contingencies if and when things don’t go to plan.”

Billy Loizou, Area Vice President, Amperity

Billy Loizou
Billy Loizou, Area Vice President, Amperity

“A brand should always be built on authenticity because authenticity is tightly connected to why a business exists. What do you stand for, and what problem are you solving? Your brand’s credibility is judged based on how successful you have been at solving that problem.

“Credibility is built on sharing tangible results or transparent reviews from companies or customers that use your products or services. As such, the modern brand is the sum of the conversation being had about it in the marketplace – not just a set of values housed on your website. At Amperity, we asked independent analyst company Forrester to perform a Total Economic Impact study to understand just how much value we add to the brands that use our software.

“We know that most software companies in our space talk about “unifying millions of customer records across a variety of online and offline sources to deliver a truly comprehensive 360 customer view”. However, the question that needs to be asked is how many have actually delivered it? At Amperity, our powerful results speak for themselves: Forrester finds that we deliver an average of 993% Return on Investment (ROI) for the leading brands that use our product.”

Alerah Turner, Director of Global Provider Networks, World Travel Protection

Alerah Turner
Alerah Turner, Director of Global Provider Networks, World Travel Protection

For 30 years, World Travel Protection has taken care of corporate, scholastic and leisure travellers across the globe by providing travel risk management services and 24-hour emergency assistance. A key foundational component of being a leading assistance provider is having a strong global network and WTP’s GlobalCare Network ensures customers have access to over 20,000 providers worldwide.

Alerah Turner, Director of Global Provider Networks for WTP, says quality care and seamless case management are critical to maintaining credibility and WTP manages this by building rapport,  maintaining strong relationships with medical providers and having a clinical current in-house medical team.

“Every year WTP handles approximately 50,000 emergency cases, globally. We can support our customers best when information is readily provided, and we’re updated frequently as to the patient’s care and treatment plan.

“To uphold our reputation as an industry leader in providing medical and security assistance to travellers around the world, WTP carries out meticulous due diligence of all partners to investigate whether they have robust clinical governance practices, hold correct licenses, insurances and accreditation, together with insights on their ability to scale their operations in response to a crisis.”

Mark Forbes, Director, Icon Reputation

Mark Forbes
Mark Forbes, Director, Icon Reputation

“It’s a question any company wants the answer to. There are a few ways to go about this; but what matters most is understanding and communicating your brand’s purpose.

“My advice is to define your purpose, your story, and figure out how you can make a difference advancing that purpose. This can help create authenticity for your brand and an important guide for being consistent across what you say and do.

“Be mindful that consumers won’t believe in your brand unless your actions, leaders and other employees echo your corporate values. Purpose starts from within. Equally crucial here is the short and sweet adage to “stay in your lane”. While there’s an expectation for brands to act on social issues, those preoccupied by chasing trending topics without sincerity are rightfully subject to scrutiny, often undermining their reputation. Ideally, your purpose should relate to your business activities and your customers or stakeholders.

“While inconsistent or insincere brands invite public disapproval, those who engage with their audience by listening, responding and bringing them on a journey will come out on top. Engage your audience by putting thought into creating well-crafted, quality content that captures your message across owned, earned media and social channels.

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“By their very definition, credibility and authenticity can’t and shouldn’t be faked. Ultimately, the key to improving your brand’s authenticity and credibility starts with knowing who you are.”

Megan Simpson, Founder and Director, Starburst Insights

Megan Simpson
Megan Simpson, Founder and Director, Starburst Insights

“There’s a growing expectation for brands to be transparent, accountable and connect with

people on their terms.

A Matter of Trust

As humans, we have a fundamental need to bond and connect. Our need to connect transcends people – it extends to organisations and brands as well. Trust is a prerequisite for meaningful connections. However, institutionalised trust continues to erode rapidly – accelerated by fake news, greenwashing, privacy breaches and recent world events. This volatility leaves us craving authenticity and realness.

Be a Human Brand

Human brands are those that ‘keep it real’. They embody human traits and characteristics. They show true empathy. They are honest and transparent. They demonstrate a future mindset. They acknowledge that consumer trust isn’t a given, it needs to be built and earned.

Human Brands in Action

  1. Show, Not Just Tell People want to see the truth behind the product (process transparency to guarantee authenticity).
  2. Made For Me: Customisation is commonplace: the new frontier is about hyper-personalisation with a human touch.
  3. A Better Tomorrow, Today It’s not just relying on past achievements and heritage to build trust, it’s demonstrating a commitment to the future by finding solutions for real problems we face.”

Mike Halligan, Co-Founder, Scratch

Mike Halligan
Mike Halligan, Co-Founder, Scratch

“Most people think about brand credibility in terms of external appearance. Companies can easily pay an outside agency to put a face on their brand, but this can feel a little polished and soulless if the focus is outwards, instead of permeating your customer service, strategy and day to day decision making.

“The best brands build in to out. They build an internal culture that’s authentic and mission-led. The team will breathe the culture into everything they do. Mambo & Deus Ex Machina founder Dare Jennings once spoke about how doing interesting things attracts other people wanting to do interesting things, like bees to a honeypot. Building from the inside out helps attract others who seek to contribute to your authentic mission, bit by bit building momentum.

“Often it’s the fringes of a customer experience where something goes from working pretty well to being this delightful, authentic experience that moves you. A two day induction or policy stuck to someone’s workstation can’t teach that – only culture and leadership can.”

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Lisa Nixon, Managing Director, BBS Communications Group

Lisa Nixon
Lisa Nixon, Managing Director, BBS Communications Group

“In the post-pandemic climate, society is responding with scepticism and mistrust – of government, of the media and organisations everywhere.

“Most Australians now have a default of distrust unless proven otherwise, according to BBS Communications Group’s global partner firm Edelman (cited by 55 per cent of respondents in its 2022 Trust Barometer).

“So how can brands build trust, credibility and authenticity? The answer is simpler than you’d think. Be honest.

“By acknowledging weaknesses and flaws, and generating honest and meaningful interaction with customers and stakeholders, organisations can have far better control over their brand image and reputation.

“Be transparent in everything your organisation does and says. Minimise exaggerations and avoid deceptions.

“Don’t be disingenuous by avoiding hard questions or trying to wallpaper over uncomfortable truths.

“Keep public interests at heart. Always make sure the focus of your brand is on the customers and other stakeholders.

“Understand and communicate your organisation’s values internally and externally, and live them in your behaviours and words.

“While no organisation is perfect, ensure that when things do go wrong, you’re ready to accept responsibility and move toward repairing and rebuilding, while providing a clear view of the process.”

Felicity Zadro, Founder and Managing Director, ZADRO

Felicity Zadro
Felicity Zadro, Founder and Managing Director, ZADRO

“The very first step is to ask yourself, “Why are you in business?” This will help you reveal your authentic voice and to talk from a position of power and consistency. This is key, for when it comes to building brand credibility and authenticity linking your activities with your why will ensure you’re meeting this standard. Use your why to build your brand story, and your key messages, so others can see what your organisation stands for. These messages then need to be reflected in your communications strategy and at every touch point of your brand amongst your staff, clients, prospects and industry. These steps will provide you with a strong foundation you can continue to build on and allow your business to grow. What you do and how you do it may change but your why will remain the same.”

Jaid Hulsbosch, Director, Hulsbosch

Jaid Hulsbosch
Jaid Hulsbosch, Director, Hulsbosch

“Simply, with a commitment to brand investment. By doing this the strongest brands such as Apple and Amazon continually improve their brand credibility and authenticity and importantly can add billions in brand value.

“A refreshed brand benchmark is to authentically express the heart or the DNA of a company. Communicating that message in a credible way across all levels, or touchpoints and what it stands for brings your audience closer.

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“Whether it’s at the bigger end of town for publicly listed companies or small to medium businesses, done right, investment in a brand program is connected to the bottom line to serve larger business goals and reflects a company’s vision.

“A strategically compelling brand provides both a distinct look and feel so that customers instantly understand what the brand stands for and what its values are, and should link to a return on the brand’s investment.”

Steven Jaenke, CEO, Digimark Australia

Steven Jaenke
Steven Jaenke, CEO, Digimark Australia

“How someone feels about your company across each touchpoint has never mattered more than it does in the current world. Brand is no longer just a buzzword, it’s a way to move your business forward. One way to establish credibility as a brand is through content marketing.

“Answering questions that people are searching for, engaging your audience with relevant updates, and providing insights into future trends help to establish you as an expert and a thought leader in your industry. By providing these learning resources and insights, and establishing yourself as an expert, your brand gains credibility and trust.

“Building content in isolation is not enough to build trust in your brand, you also need a distribution strategy. Getting the content you are creating seen by bloggers, journalists, and influencers broadens your reach, builds your authority in the industry, and gets you in front of audiences that you aren’t likely to have had access to outside of your personal network.”

Emily Murray, Director, Sourceym

Emily Murray
Emily Murray, Director, Sourceym

“After 15 years in the promotional products industry, I have learnt so much about the importance of brand building and brand reputation:

  1. Define your Brand and Tone of Voice

    Ever heard the saying it’s not what you say but how you say it? Well, that’s tone of voice.

    This is not just about the words you choose but the order, the humour, the personality you use across every touch point within your business.

    Carefully chosen words can be used to persuade or influence your audience.
  2. Be Consistent

    Being consistent with your brand helps build trust and awareness.

    If you’re getting bored looking at the same creative, you’re on the right track!

    When you are exposed to the same brand elements every day, you’re more likely to establish strong brand recognition with your target market.
  3. Become a trusted expert in your field

    Most of us take our business insight, wisdom, and practical knowledge for granted.

    This comes from hard work and years of experience, which is extremely valuable for your audience.
  4. Share your wins. Don’t give away your business success secrets, but if your company uses a certain approach that no one else in the industry does, tell everyone!”

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about 250 million euros ($273 million) in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant Thursday, dealing a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.

The ruling by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangements between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had not proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.

“The Court of Justice confirms that the Commission has not established that the tax ruling given to Amazon by Luxembourg was a State aid that was incompatible with the internal market” of the EU, the court said in a press release.

Amazon welcomed the ruling, saying it confirms that the company “followed all applicable laws and received no special treatment.”

“We look forward to continuing to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe,” the company said in a statement.

The commission said it “will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”

The case dates back to 2017, when Vestager charged Amazon with unfairly profiting from special low tax conditions since 2003 in tiny Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.

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The EU has taken aim at deals between individual countries and companies used to lure foreign multinationals in search of a place to establish their EU headquarters. The practice led to EU states competing with each other and multinationals playing them off one another.

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is recalling nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., more than 2 million, to update software and fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot.

Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the update will increase warnings and alerts to drivers and even limit the areas where basic versions of Autopilot can operate.

The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system.”

The added controls and alerts will “further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility,” the documents said.

But safety experts said that, while the recall is a good step, it still makes the driver responsible and doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Tesla’s automated systems have with spotting and stopping for obstacles in their path.

The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7 of this year. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.

Shares of Tesla slid more than 3% in earlier trading Wednesday but recovered amid a broad stock market rally to end the day up 1%.

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The attempt to address the flaws in Autopilot seemed like a case of too little, too late to Dillon Angulo, who was seriously injured in 2019 crash involving a Tesla that was using the technology along a rural stretch of Florida highway where the software isn’t supposed to be deployed.

“This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road,” said Angulo, who is suing Tesla as he recovers from injuries that included brain trauma and broken bones. “The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”

Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.

The software update will limit where Autosteer can be used. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage,” the recall documents said.

Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, and additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices. A driver could be suspended from using Autosteer if they repeatedly fail “to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility,” the documents say.

According to recall documents, agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla did not concur with NHTSA’s analysis but agreed to the recall on Dec. 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.

Auto safety advocates for years have been calling for stronger regulation of the driver monitoring system, which mainly detects whether a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have called for cameras to make sure a driver is paying attention, which are used by other automakers with similar systems.

Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studies autonomous vehicle safety, called the software update a compromise that doesn’t address a lack of night vision cameras to watch drivers’ eyes, as well as Teslas failing to spot and stop for obstacles.

“The compromise is disappointing because it does not fix the problem that the older cars do not have adequate hardware for driver monitoring,” Koopman said.

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Koopman and Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, contend that crashing into emergency vehicles is a safety defect that isn’t addressed. “It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Brooks said. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”

Koopman said NHTSA apparently decided that the software change was the most it could get from the company, “and the benefits of doing this now outweigh the costs of spending another year wrangling with Tesla.”

In its statement Wednesday, NHTSA said the investigation remains open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies and continue to work with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.”

Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself, despite its name. Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.

In its defect report filed with the safety agency, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”

A message was left early Wednesday seeking further comment from the Austin, Texas, company.

Tesla says on its website that Autopilot and a more sophisticated Full Self Driving system are meant to help drivers who have to be ready to intervene at all times. Full Self Driving is being tested by Tesla owners on public roads.

In a statement posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, Tesla said safety is stronger when Autopilot is engaged.

NHTSA has dispatched investigators to 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which the agency suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed.

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The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.

In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said Tesla shouldn’t be calling the system Autopilot because it can’t drive itself.

—-

AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.

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Why Was Sam Altman Fired? Possible Ties to China D2 (Double Dragon) Data from Hackers

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Theories are going around the internet why Sam Altman was fired. On an insider tech forum (Blind) – one person claims to know by third-hand account and how this news will trickle into the media over the next couple of weeks.

It’s said OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models, which includes GPT-4. This data was obtained through a hidden business contract with a D2 shell company called Whitefly, which was based in Singapore. This D2 group has the largest and biggest crawling/indexing/scanning capacity in the world 10x more than Alphabet Inc (Google), hence the deal so Open AI could get their hands on vast quantities of data for training after exhausting their other options.

The Chinese government became aware of this arrangement and raised concerns with the Biden administration. As a result, the NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed that OpenAI had been using data from D2. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the findings and ordered Altman’s removal.

There was also suggestion that Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board. This lack of candor ultimately led to his dismissal and is what the board publicly alluded to when they said “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

To summarize what happened with Sam Altman’s firing:

1. Sam Altman was removed from OpenAI due to his ties to a Chinese cyber army group.

2.OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models.

3. The Chinese government raised concerns about this arrangement with the Biden administration.

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4. The NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed OpenAI’s use of D2 data.

5. Satya Nadella ordered Altman’s removal after being informed of the findings.

6. Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board.

 

We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if this story holds up or not.

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