Authenticity Is In
“If you’re willing to tell me about the bad, then I will trust you when you tell me the good.”
In an increasingly staged, contrived, and media-saturated world, people are seeking meaning and authenticity in every facet of their lives. From the employers they work for to the businesses they buy from and the brands they support.
Globalization and technology have created a new level of consumer awareness. According to a 2014 survey by Cohn & Wolfe, when consumers rated more than 1,600 brands on authenticity, the three key attributes listed were: “reliability,” “respectfulness,” and “reality.”
The study found that consumers consider a brand authentic when the company consistently delivers on what it promises and interacts with their customers with transparency and integrity.
People are no longer willing to just buy into a logo. People want to “buy into a set of values” and be part of a brand that aligns with their beliefs. As a result, authenticity-seeking consumers are paying closer and closer attention to not only the ethical and environmental costs of doing business with a company, but also how a brand treats and relates to its customers and employees.
Harnessing the Power of Authenticity
- Commit to purpose: An authentic brand should be defined by its purpose and the promise it makes to its customers – not just what it sells. If a company chooses to be true to their purpose day in and out, it can truly build an authentic brand. A brand should invest time and money in the projects and capabilities that drive its purpose — not constantly reacting to the market or chasing any opportunity that comes its way. A clear and firm sense of purpose is the compass that helps a brand navigate choices and progress toward authenticity.
- Be genuine: An authentic brand shows its real self. It doesn’t say one thing in public and behave another way in private. If a business describes their beliefs and doesn’t have an accompanying story, policy, or program to back up it up, then those words become meaningless. And a brand shouldn’t hide its mistakes or imperfections out of fear of looking weak. Showing vulnerability builds loyalty and trust among customers and employees. Authenticity means no longer trying to present a perfect façade.
- Lead with the heart: An authentic brand doesn’t just lead with the mind. It engages customers and employees on an emotional level. Just recently, Akagi Nyugyo, a Japanese ice cream company, made a 60-second commercial where executives and employees bowed in apology for raising the price of one of its popular frozen treats by 9 cents. The commercial went viral and their sales jumped by 10% in the month following the increase. Although this kind of national apology is rare in business, communicating with empathy and directness is critical to success and authenticity.
- Invite people in: The best way to be an authentic brand is to invite customers and employees in. By letting them help own and shape the brand’s future, these people feel like they are truly a part of the brand. An authentic brand embraces their community and leads the rallying cry to doing something worthwhile in the world. Authenticity requires connecting with people and motivating them to pursue common objectives.
Authenticity is a winning strategy. An open, trustworthy, and transparent business attracts customers who will stand behind the brand’s purpose. When you embrace the authenticity of your brand, everyone wins.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco based agency.