Now more than ever, consumers are holding brands to a higher standard, not just concerning convenience, price and quality, they now expect authenticity.
- Authentic brands know what they stand for and why they started out in the first place.
- They must have a vision, with values in place to drive and direct their strategy, this is what will resonate most with consumers, at a time when they are exposed to an overwhelming amount of content.
Cohn & Wolfe found in a survey that 72% of consumers ranked authenticity above innovation. Authenticity has never been more vital for brands as it alters how a consumer perceives the brand experience and how much they trust the brand.
1. Invest time to build relationships.
Consumer trust does not develop overnight, it requires consistency to achieve. Brand authenticity is about cultivating relationships, which require the same consistency and time as building trust. What brands need to ensure is that they are telling a story that allows consumers to get to know them, vulnerabilities and strengths alike. A brand needs to establish its place in the community of their consumers and form part of it.
2. Be consistent.
Consistency is the key to building and maintaining relationships with clients, partners, and consumers. This entails keeping a brand’s story, values, and actions aligned at all levels, and on every channel. If there is even the slightest deviation from the core message a brand encompasses, without a valid reason or warning, then a brand’s authenticity can be damaged and in turn, loose consumers trust.
Outline brand guidelines early on and use this as a point of reference for all strategy and actions.
3. Have a conversation.
Authentic brands must listen and engage with their consumers, they are not there to interrupt and talk about themselves, adding value is crucial.
83% of consumers stated that they appreciate when a brand responds to them on social media.
Consumers are taking the time to reach out, brands should make the most of this in order to build two-way conversations that are maintained.
4. Stay true to the brand values.
Authentic brands are winning when they have strong moral, social, and corporate values. Brands have to be consistently clear about what they stand for, and at no cost should compromise this. Whether it is fleeting industry fads, or vulnerabilities, as long as a brand stays true to their values, this will resonate with consumers and earn their loyalty.
5. Be transparent and honest.
Brands have nowhere to hide, consumers have never been more scrutinising and less willing to accept that brands are being truly transparent and honest. Authentic brands will be the ones to admit mistakes, and in turn, make amends when necessary. This level of transparency is key in building brand authenticity, as explained by Jill Dumain, Director of Environmental Strategy for Patagonia:
Consumers think “I trust what you tell me about the good, because you’re willing to tell me about the bad.”
Consumers are only human, and they expect the marketers behind the ads to be the same, so if a brand can own up to their mistakes and show they are willing to improve for the benefit of the consumer, this level of transparency and honesty will truly resonate with them.