When it comes to human beings, we know that being authentic is seen as a good thing. It makes sense — people are drawn to others who are genuine, honest and not afraid to be themselves. So, how does that translate to a brand? It’s actually not much different. People crave, no…DEMAND, that same authenticity from the companies and products they’re investing in or purchasing from. With 91% of consumers worldwide saying they prefer to support an authentic brand, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice by not meeting that need.
Is your brand authentic?
It’s the million dollar question…and one worth diving into so you can reap the rewards. While authenticity can mean a lot of different things to different people, we believe these four questions will help you determine how authentic your brand is to your consumers — and get you one step closer to earning their trust and their business.
1. Am I being “real” and relatable?
Yes, your branding represents an entire company/service/product. But your audience doesn’t necessarily want to feel like they’re interacting with a business. Can you blame them? Your branding should feel like it’s coming from a “real” person — someone your audience can relate to and who has their best interests in mind.
That means having a distinct personality for your brand and ensuring that it is coming across in everything you do. You don’t need to sound like everyone else or create a forced persona that you think will please your audience. They will see right through that in a second. Take some advice from your mom and “just be yourself, sweetie.” This may mean going back to the drawing board to ensure you can define who your company is, the values you want to enforce and the personality that best represents that. At the end of the day, your consumer should feel like they know your brand and your brand knows them.
2. Am I making genuine connections?
Forget sales pitches and promotional messaging for a minute and instead turn your attention to brand storytelling. When you look at your communications, are you mostly focused on the product/service you sell? Or are you focused on telling the story of WHY your company exists?
To make a genuine connection with your consumers, you’ve got to open up about the essence of who you are — what problem you’re trying to solve and why that should matter to your audience. Share the story of your company (your mission, inspiration, goals, etc.) to ensure your audience feels like you care about them and their experience with your product/service. 83% of Millennials want companies to have the same values as they do. Those who share your values will feel an instant connection to your brand. Plus, 55% of people are more likely to make a purchase if they love your brand story.
3. Am I living up to my values?
It’s one thing to tell your audience what you stand for. But if you can’t back it up, your customers will be the first ones to notice (and won’t hesitate to write you off). This goes back to being unapologetically yourself and making sure your audience sees how dedicated you are to fulfilling the promises you’ve made.
Do you know who the top two most authentic brands in the US are (according to this Brand Authenticity Index)? Trader Joes and Chick-fil-A. When you look at what they have in common, you’ll quickly find that both have strongly rooted values and make sure everything they do backs them up. Can you say the same for your brand? Your audience wants to see that you don’t just say you’re going to do or stand for something — they want to see that you’re actually living it (in your marketing, in the way you carry out business, in the way you interact with your consumers, etc.). That’s why it’s so important to be true to yourself. It’s much easier to keep your brand consistently authentic when it’s something you actually believe in.
4. Am I showing a willingness to evolve for my consumer?
This comes down to showing your audience that you care about them, are listening to their needs and are taking action to give them what they want. It’s not about changing who you are or what you stand for (which should remain consistent), but instead remembering to be look constantly to the future. This may mean pursing new products or offerings that help deliver your promise better than ever or pivoting your business to meet your audience where they are.
A good place to start if you aren’t already doing this? Be open to discussions or recommendations from your customers, look for pain points in their everyday lives (and how you can better solve them), ask them questions and show interest in what they have to say. This willingness to listen and develop a two-way dialogue will help you audience feel connected and listened to.
There’s no denying it: brand authenticity leads to customer loyalty. Knowing who your brand is, and ensuring your audience knows it too, is key to creating an authentic brand they will trust time and time again. If you answered no to any of these questions, our experts would love to help you create and maintain YOUR brand authenticity.