In Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, the ghoulish but bored Halloween mainstay, longed to be loved like Santa Claus. He learned that wanting to be loved when you were born (or re-born, in his case) to scare, was a fool’s errand. Don’t worry, though, this magnificent stop motion animation story actually has a happy ending.

Some viewed the underlying message of this holiday classic as the importance of having good intentions or the courage to try something new. Others concluded it meant knowing who you were – being authentic – was really the most important asset.

As a professional communicator, I think the real moral of the story is the latter … authenticity is king. Every consumer, whether a business or a person, expects a brand to know and be what it truly is.

2020 and 2021 have laid bare the importance of brand authenticity. We can all name brands that tried to score points with their consumer by expressing support for BLM or disgust for racial injustice. Unfortunately, many never changed their behavior or often ignored their checkered past. They were inauthentic.

A thoughtful Harvard Business Review article in July 2020 shared that, “A majority of Americans of all generations — 60% of the U.S. population — say that how a brand responds to racial justice protests will influence whether they buy or boycott the brand in the future.”

Authenticity is the real gift that must be delivered to our consumers. Jack Skellington learned it. Sally and Oogie Boogie knew it. Lock, Shock and Barrel lived it.

Another lesson for us adults in a children’s Christmas classic.