Most corporate brands like to believe that their brand of products or services is the most authentic in their industry space. Popular buzzwords like brand identity or brand honesty are often used synonymously by organizations when describing their business offerings.
With today’s data-savvy consumers having easy access to brand information and choices, can brands only rely on an excellent product/service or online marketing to make their brand stay ahead of their competition?
No. Because your brand authenticity also matters.
A 2019 Stackla survey found that 86% of consumers consider authenticity as a key factor when deciding which brand to support. Further, today’s millennial and generation Z consumers are more vocal about their demand for brand identity and authenticity.
Why is brand authenticity important and how can you build a better brand identity? Let us answer these questions in the following sections.
Brand authenticity refers to how much a consumer believes that the company is being honest in what they are trying to convey to their audience. It plays a crucial role in defining your business missions and processes.
Successful brands have used brand authenticity to reposition themselves to work for the benefit of their consumers. Recent examples include Coca-Cola's "Better Shared Future” and Nike’s “Move to Zero” brand messaging.
Authenticity is best described as being true to your consumers and adapting to changes in the market. Here are a few ways to do that:
By emotionally connecting with consumers: A genuine or original brand message connects with consumers at an emotional level. The question is does your brand have a consistent message that consumers can identify with at all times? For instance, a DoSomethingStrategic research found that two-thirds of Gen Z consumers felt positive about a brand because of their association with a social cause.
By rising above the noise: In these times of information overload, it is challenging for businesses to transmit genuine brand messaging to their potential consumers. With online consumers using more ad blockers, only authentic brands can reach out to them and grow their business through word-of-mouth advertising.
By differentiating from other brands: Authentic brands differentiate themselves from their competition by being more visible and transparent to their consumers. For example, a transparent brand strategy works towards building brand trust and loyalty among consumers.
As a growing business, how do you go about building brand authenticity for your company? An honest brand identity is not difficult to achieve.
Here are 5 steps with which you can achieve the it:
- Build a good brand story
We love to hear interesting brand narration. People immediately connect to stories that are not positioned as any marketing tool or as a sales pitch, but that talks about the various challenges that they (or someone else) faced and how they overcame them.
- Be consistent in your brand messaging
Is your brand message in line with your brand value and identity? Inconsistent brand messaging can be confusing to your users and harm your brand loyalty. With so many options for digital marketing and social media marketing, make sure you deliver a consistent message across all channels.
Here are some useful tips on how to build brand consistency:
- Align your brand message with your company’s vision and objective.
- Maintain consistency in both online and offline content. For example, websites, business emails, brochures, newsletters, eBooks, and social media content.
- Participate in activities that are aligned with your brand recognition.
- Prepare a brand manifesto that acts as a guideline for any new material.
- Practice what you preach
As the popular adage goes, it is not what you say, but what you do that matters. This is also true in case of brand management. Smart consumers can easily spot the lack of substance behind every brand's social media engagement and marketing campaign. If the honest claims about your brand are not followed by appropriate actions, then your brand authenticity will not work.
- Accept any business mistakes
Building an authentic brand is not about being the perfect brand that can make no mistakes. As a business, own up to any mistakes in consumer servicing or damage done to your brand identity when required. The fact is that no business is perfect–and your consumers also know that.
As a practice, develop a clear line of communications with your online audience through multiple channels.
- Be available on digital platforms where your consumers are likely to reach out to you.
- Listen to their concerns and answer their questions.
- Seek their honest feedback.
- Showcase your brand reputation
The final step towards achieving brand authenticity is to showcase your brand reputation to your consumers. User testimonials or online reviews can be a great way of showing what real people or businesses think about your brand. In other words, brand identity is not just about being honest and accepting mistakes, but also the positive aspects of your business.
Brand authenticity is not a one-time activity, but a constant process of discovering what your brand means for your consumers. No matter which industry you are in, brand identity is critical for business success in today’s times. As outlined in this article, an authentic brand can connect with consumers and establish a brand value that goes way beyond profits and revenues.