In today’s dynamic market, consumer trust is hard to gain but incredibly easy to lose. In an era where we are inundated with choices, marketing saturation and disingenuous practices are causing consumers to lose faith in brands and lose faith fast.
A powerful tool in any marketing strategy, brand authenticity has become the beacon that’s guiding consumers back to brands, allowing genuine connections to be built with the companies they support.
Authentic brands have become successful brands. Genuine storytelling, brand messaging, transparent brand values, and a commitment to ethical practices have gone from buzzwords to essential elements for building a loyal customer base.
At Farinella, we create brands and communications that connect companies with customers. As a client-first creative communications agency, we’ve built a 30-year track record of delivering storytelling and communications that inspire brand loyalty and drive business.
In this article, we explore what brand authenticity is, why it’s so important, and how to craft an authentic brand experience that connects with consumers personally, fostering trust beyond transactions.
What is brand authenticity?
More than just a buzzword, brand authenticity has become paramount as consumers increasingly seek genuine connections with the companies they buy from. But what exactly is brand authenticity?
Brand authenticity refers to the level at which a consumer believes that the company is honest in what it tries to convey to its audience. It goes beyond marketing strategies and slogans, reflecting a commitment to honesty and sincerity in all aspects of a brand’s interactions with its audience. An authentic brand is about being true to oneself and creating a meaningful and trustworthy relationship with the audience.
Authentic brands build trust by aligning their actions with stated values, showcasing a real understanding of their customer’s needs and concerns. Authenticity involves a consistent and truthful brand narrative that resonates with consumers on a personal level and fosters a much deeper connection.
More than just a strategy, the authenticity of a brand is a powerful means of rebuilding and strengthening the bonds between businesses and their target audience.
Take Patagonia as an example. Patagonia has long been celebrated for its commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The brand actively supports environmental causes, uses recycled materials in its products, and transparently communicates its supply chain practices. This dedication to ethical practices aligns with the core values of its environmentally conscious customer base, contributing to its brand consistency and authenticity.
Why is brand authenticity important?
In today’s fast-paced, digital world, consumers are constantly bombarded with overwhelming amounts of marketing messages, which makes capturing their attention and earning their loyalty nearly impossible.
In the sea of noise, consumers, especially Gen Z consumers, seek authentic connections with businesses at all brand touchpoints. In fact, according to research from Social Media Today, a whopping 90% of consumers said that authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.
The importance of brand authenticity in today’s market is further backed up by consumer research from Sprout Social, which found that 84% of consumers buy from brands they feel an emotional connection to.
With the days of relying solely on product features or pricing long gone, consumers now seek meaningful connections, memorable experiences, and brands that align with their values and aspirations.
Building Brand Authenticity: What makes a brand authentic?
Authenticity in a brand is rooted in sincerity, transparency, and a genuine connection with its audience.
It’s about being true to the brand’s values, having an engaging and authentic brand story, and consistently delivering on promises.
Take Nike, for example, which has successfully cultivated authenticity through its “Just Do It” ethos. The brand’s commitment to empowering athletes and individuals aligns with its long-standing association with sports and performance.
Apple is another example, renowned for its sleek designs and innovative technology. Apple’s authenticity is evident in its focus on user experience, pushing the boundaries of design and functionality. Both Nike and Apple have built trust and authenticity by staying true to their core values and consistently delivering products that resonate with their audience.
The Power of Purpose: How to Build Brand Authenticity
As we mentioned earlier, authentic brands build trust by aligning their actions with their stated values, showcasing a real understanding of their customers’ needs and concerns.
Here are some steps you can take to improve your brand’s authenticity and build your brand value with purpose.
- Develop a strong brand story
Behind every strong business is a strong brand story. That’s because brand storytelling humanizes the brand, making it more than just a product or service but a meaningful part of consumers’ lives.
The benefits of compelling stories include:
- Establishes brand authenticity
- Building a strong brand identity
- Captures your audience’s attention and builds trust
- Differentiates your business from your competitors through unique brand narratives
- Creates a sense of shared values and identity with customers
- Increases engagement, word-of-mouth recommendations, and customer advocacy
By harnessing the power of storytelling as part of your content marketing strategy, brands can create memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact, differentiate themselves from competitors, and build a strong emotional bond with their audience.
- Consistency is key to your brand messaging
Does your brand message align with your brand values and identity? Inconsistent brand messaging can push away your audience and reduce brand loyalty. Build brand consistency and foster brand trust by delivering strong brand messaging across all your digital platforms – especially social media.
Tips for building brand consistency include:
- Make sure your brand message aligns with your company’s mission and vision.
- Ensure consistency in both online and offline content.
- Engage in activities aligned with your brand recognition.
- Create a brand manifesto that acts as a guideline for all new content.
- Put your words into action – turn your company’s vision into an actionable roadmap
- Feature user-generated content
User-generated content, or UGC, should be a key component of your content strategy as it has been proven to be a powerful tool in creating an authentic brand.
In fact, a study of U.S., UK, and Australian consumers found that user-generated content is viewed as the most authentic form of content by consumers globally, with 58% of consumers agreeing.
- Actively engage with your audience
Customer engagement is crucial to building brand authenticity, as it involves creating meaningful interactions with your audience. Listen to their feedback, respond genuinely, and involve them in your brand journey.
- Admit Mistakes
If errors occur, admit them openly and address them promptly. Acknowledging mistakes demonstrates humility and accountability.
Tailor your interactions to individual preferences. Personalization shows that you understand and value your customers as individuals.
Examples of Authentic Brands
Whether it’s perceived brand authenticity or real, plenty of high-profile businesses have successfully built their brands on authenticity. These include:
Ben & Jerry’s: Ben & Jerry’s is known for its socially conscious approach to business. The ice cream company is vocal about climate change, social justice, and fair trade issues. By consistently advocating for causes that resonate with its customers, Ben & Jerry’s demonstrates authenticity, creating a strong connection with consumers who appreciate the brand’s values-driven approach.
Dove: Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign challenged conventional beauty standards and celebrated diversity. By featuring real women with different body types, skin tones, and ages, Dove connected with its audience on a personal level. The campaign resonated because it tackled societal issues, promoting a positive and inclusive message. To help drive authenticity, Dove engaged in various social responsibility initiatives, such as promoting self-esteem education and supporting women’s empowerment.
Patagonia: Patagonia’s commitment to environmental sustainability and ethical practices sets it apart. Renowned for its Black Friday campaigns, the company often donates its sales to environmental causes, emphasizing action over profits. This approach reflects their dedication to planet over profit, aligning with their customer base’s values. Patagonia’s transparent communication about its supply chain and environmental impact further bolsters its authenticity. By consistently prioritizing environmental stewardship, Patagonia fosters a genuine connection with consumers who admire their stance on social and ecological responsibility.
The Farinella Approach to Building Brand Authenticity
Although many brands set out with the intention of being authentic, resonating with your audience is a whole other matter.
Recent research found that an overwhelming 92% of marketers believe that most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers. Yet the majority of consumers disagree, with 51% saying less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic. So, how do you ensure that your authenticity is received and resonates?
Experts in authentic branding, our approach at Farinella is centered around standing out and breaking through.
Our proven stepped approach to building authenticity includes the following:
- A deep dive into what your product/service does.
- A comprehensive analysis of your target audience and their needs/pain points.
- Research your competitors, their promises, tone, and voice.
- Interviews of company ownership/management (including non-C-Suite employees) so we understand how every part of the company talks about the product/solution.
- User/buyer interviews so we can understand exactly why they used/bought the product/service.
From there, we compare what we say and what our competitors say to look for ways to stand out and breakthrough. The way to build authenticity during this phase is by being truthful in what you’re saying in the market – consumers can tell when you’re trying to mislead them.
How to communicate with your target market is crucial, so develop messaging pillars/platforms that speak to each audience (usually customers/employees/industry/press). This is where authenticity becomes essential because engineers want smart things, B2C wants casual/friendly, and B2B wants authority/confidence.
Building brand authenticity is something we successfully did for Everi. Working hand in hand with the company’s brilliant marketing crew, we delivered all creative imagining and execution of naming, brand, corporate story, messaging, and more!
We also worked with The Partner Companies (TPC), an integrated group of advanced manufacturing centers that needed to stand out and cut through in a highly competitive pool. Brand, marketing, and communications strategies were the first assignments. We measured TPC against the established competition, looking for places where TPC could stand out and excel.
The brand messaging platform needed to be created. We aimed for informative, engaging, and convincing language and then built pillars to bring consistency to all communications.
Next, we completely revamped the company’s digital presence by creating a custom-coded website that surpassed its competitors in design and UX while telling a compelling and convincing story.
Strengthen Your Brand Authenticity to Strengthen Your Bottom Line
More than just a tool to enhance engagement and trust, brand authenticity is a powerful catalyst for improving businesses’ bottom line.
As successful brands like Patagonia, Nike, and Dove show, building your marketing strategies around authenticity delivers an incredibly strong return on the investment.
If you need help building brand authenticity, the expert team at Farinella can help. Having successfully launched brands for over 30 years, we can help define who you are and develop an authentic brand that connects with your customers on a whole new level.
Contact us today to discover how we can help bring your brand to life.