September 12, 2016

Brand authenticity: What it is and why it’s important

Why Brand Authenticity is important. Small business marketing.

No matter the size or scale of your business, ‘authenticity’ is an aspect of branding that’s important to consider in order to stay competitive in today’s modern market. Authenticity is a trendy marketing buzzword, but there’s good reason behind its popularity, so we thought we’d demystify the concept for you and show you how to apply it to marketing strategy to make a measurable difference in the success of your messaging. First, let’s talk about what it is in regards to the way you do business.

In its most simple sense, authenticity means honesty. Layer transparency and integrity onto that, and you have a business approach that is as rooted in reality as it is inspired. There is already authenticity at work in every business or organization – it is the set of core beliefs that drives the brand and the activity. It’s the stuff that just happens, naturally and truthfully. No pretending, no falsehoods, no saying your brand is something that it isn’t, or stands for something that it doesn’t. Authenticity is the glass wall at the hamburger factory – are you cool with what consumers will see when they look into your world? Are you excited to share it with them?

Enough data is out there to demonstrate that millennials shop differently than previous generations (and I’m proud to be part of this discerning demographic!) – they are not so easily swayed by traditional push marketing techniques, or by “ads” in the conventional sense. Millennials (focusing on this age group is important because they’re the driving consumer force in the country right now, and there are 75 million of them) are not looking for brands or advertising. They’re looking for solutions to their life’s problems, and brands that meet them where they are, communicate to them on their level and engage them are going to beat out competitors that are left behind designing billboards.

How does one turn authenticity into a to-do list? A few ideas:

  1. Do, don’t tell. Authenticity should be something your company generates every day just by doing what it always does. You shouldn’t have to make up stories about why what you do is special – it’s special because you’re the only one doing it!
  2. Engage. Create conversations around what you do – ask questions, and offer answers. Get people to live and breathe what you believe in, whether this is at an event or with a video or a crowdsourcing campaign. People love getting involved with people who share interests and beliefs.
  3. Look for contradictions between your marketing messages and the reality of your business. Do you say you’re eco-friendly, but in reality, you support denim factories that pollute villages in developing countries? Today’s active, engaged consumer is not OK with mis-matches of this nature. Live your values!
  4. Let your personality shine. This may sound fluffy, but tone of voice and personality is key in creating a one-of-a-kind, truly-authentic brand. Don’t write copy that sounds like everyone else. Infuse your marketing and messaging with a singular sense of character that makes it feel like a human and you’ll create a much stronger connection with your customer.

To me, authenticity comes down to giving people a reason to care. Consumers want to care – they want to believe that their purchase is making a difference somewhere, somehow, that the brands they are supporting with their hard-earned dollars are living out the values that they believe in. People respond to honesty, integrity, enthusiasm and love, and they can spot frauds from a mile away. It’s never too late to look for the authenticity that exists within your business and to capitalize on it with thoughtful, engaging campaigns.

Looking for help in identifying that authenticity, or in coming up with a way to use it that will be both efficient and profitable? Get in touch! We’re full of ideas.