Cooking up Some Brand Authenticity: The Key Ingredients
Authenticity • Marketing Function
Where else to start than with a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre: “If you seek authenticity for authenticity’s sake you are no longer authentic”.
A statement recently updated by Billie Eilish for Calvin Klein’s #MyTruth campaign, where she stated: “you can’t fake authenticity…” A sentiment that underpins CK’s aim to ‘embrace authentic self-expression’, with the goal of generating more authentic connections.
That’s a lot of authentic. Not that Calvin Klein are alone in seeking more meaningful, original, and genuine interactions with target audiences. The market is awash with stories promoting the importance of building trust and unleashing your ‘authentic voice’. The question of course is how…
Striving for trust and authenticity – 6 key ingredients
As per Monsieur Sartre and Ms Eilish’s comments, authenticity and trust are qualities that are virtually impossible to fabricate. Instead, they emerge from the collective actions, passions, and purpose a company exhibits.
In other words, there’s an organic element to authenticity that defies efforts to control or coerce it. For brand owners, such a realization helps move the emphasis away from obsessively trying to ‘generate’ authenticity. Instead, efforts should be aimed at cultivating the behaviors and attributes needed to create experiences that lead to deeper and more trusting relationships.
Doing this however can be difficult, even in the best of circumstances when you control every customer touchpoint. It’s also a task that’s made more complex when you factor in the fakes, as well as those impersonators skillfully imitating your brand, your products, and your interactions with the outside world.
Staying authentic therefore requires consistent effort, and below we highlight the 6 key considerations to inspire your next steps:
#1 Take people with you
Showing the glitzy window dressing of your brand is one thing, but giving people access to you backstage elicits an entirely different response. Not that this should be surprising: consumers are after all buying into you as much as they’re buying your products, and they want to know what they’re getting in return. That’s why it’s important to give people the inside scoop, and to show them the ‘what’, ‘how’, and (most importantly) the ‘why’ driving your ambition. When they understand your motivations, they’re more willing to trust you.
#2 Be open and transparent
Few brands can openly claim to get everything right. For the rest, decisions and actions are taken with the honest intention of being better/smarter/cheaper etc. When mistakes do happen though, consumers have little patience for brands that attempt to ‘stage manage’ the fall out. Instead the emphasis needs to be on honesty, on holding your hands up, admitting your error, and detailing a fair response.
#3 Keep it real
Authenticity can come in a variety of different forms, many of which emerge from the same fundamental source: the ability to be relatable. Yes, it’s important to offer the aspirational, but practical, pragmatic, and relevant are also valuable currencies – especially when they’re able to connect with and reflect the demands of real-life situations.
#4 Stick to your guns
Brand values are some of the hardest qualities to impersonate. Counterfeiters can of course replicate your best sellers, but they can’t deliver them in the same inimitable way. Not if you remain consistent with what your brand stands for and offer a premium experience that helps to continually reinforce this credibility. Consistency mixed with a clear and relevant purpose makes for a powerful concoction.
#5 Embrace your back story
The myriad factors, personalities, and actions that shaped your company from origin to awesome are a true source of unique. Sharing this heritage through thoughtful and interesting stories helps generate substance, backing up your brand’s ‘right’ to adopt an exclusive position – while giving that authentic feel to everything you do.
#6 Show you genuinely care
Many brands say they care about their customers, to the point that it’s almost become a stock ‘tick in the box’ statement. Consumers though can quickly tell the genuine from the spin, as they seek responsible and compassionate firms to build long-term relationships with. People expect high standards from their favourite brands, which in turn have a powerful responsibility to protect this trust from any bad actors or experiences.
Summing it all up…
Authenticity and trust are delicate and intangible qualities to define. But they can, and have been by French philosophers, American singer songwriters, and consumers – based predominantly on their personal notions of what feels truly genuine.
What’s more, authenticity is becoming more important by the day, with Gen Z seeking it out in ever-greater numbers. Why this is, is a question best left for the psychologists and social commentators, but to end (as we started) with a quote: “Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity”.
So said Coco Chanel who, if we didn’t know better, seemed to be coining a phrase with 2020 very much in mind.
THE 5TH P OF MARKETING – CONSUMER RESEARCH REPORT
Download the consumer research report to learn how to build and protect your brand’s authenticity online. Inside, you’ll find:
- Key research insights – what brand authenticity means to consumers
- A step-by-step guide to building brand authenticity
- A list of tools you’ll need to protect your brand’s authenticity
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