The hardest part of building a brand is carving out a place in the market, right? Not exactly. It turns out the hardest part of building a brand is building a brand. Creating a brand–not a business–is a multifaceted, perpetually ongoing, and ever-changing challenge. One way to make it easier, however, is to focus on authenticity. Building an authentic brand will get you much further than trying to build a business. Plus, it’ll help you figure out who your customers really are!
What is an Authentic Brand?
The difference between an authentic brand and a non-authentic brand is essentially the difference between a brand and a business. One provides a product or service, and the other provides tangible value to its’ customers’ lives. An authentic brand doesn’t have to find customers–customers want to come to it.
An authentic brand is transparent, but also consistent. A brand can’t preach better global living standards and pay its workers sub-standard wages. Part of displaying authenticity–in addition to transparency–is walking the talk. Modern customers aren’t easily fooled. Between layers of online research, gossip, and in-person observation, folks can spot a phony in less time than it takes to perform a Google search.
An authentic brand makes connections with its audience because it stands for more than selling a product or service. What’s more, brand authenticity is a huge component of content marketing. Community engagement, philanthropic efforts, and positive actions can all serve as effective pieces of content to attract, engage, and delight your customers!
Why does Building an Authentic Brand Matter?
What makes a brand stand out isn’t a unique product, low price point, or catchy advertising schtick. It’s whether or not the brand in question is truly an authentic brand. In a study from Brand Truth, trust rated as the second most important factor in purchasing from a brand–behind only price. Why does that matter? While a low price point might help you attract and keep customers, it may not be sustainable.
In other words, when and if low-price-driven brands lose their competitive edge, what else can they do to keep their “loyal” customers? In fact, those “loyal” customers weren’t loyal to the brand at all–just the price. The same can’t be said about an authentic brand. In fact, that same Brand Truth study found customers were widely interested not in brands who could solve their personal, product-related issues, but global, shared issues.
Survey respondents sought out brands who led the drive towards global change, protect their workers, and back up their words with action. The last part especially is where building an authentic brand matters the most. It’s one thing to preach popular ideals, but it’s another to stand behind them with action. Brands who walk the talk are the ones who earn the coveted trust–and repeat purchases–from their customers.
Examples of Authentic Branding
Remember, price isn’t always the most important purchasing factor. In a recent study from Salsify, over 90% of the 1,800 respondents admitted they were willing to pay more for a product or service from a brand they trust. The reason they trust those brands? Higher quality ingredients, materials, or craftsmanship, corporate responsibility, great customer service, and more. Reading between the lines, authentic branding starts with showing customers the brand exists to do more than sell them a product.
Newsweek’s list of America’s most trusted companies all have one thing in common: they’re authentic. Real, authentic brands ask for feedback because they actually want to improve their overall customer experience, not just because they want to sell more products. They listen to their customers, find new pain points to solve, and of course, reach their customers where it matters most.
The litmus test for brand authenticity is whether or not the brand is question is truly willing to put the needs of its customers ahead of the need for profit. If the answer is no, the brand will never be truly authentic. That’s not to say a brand like Coca-Cola suddenly needs to become a non-profit, but again, customers can spot when brands are cutting corners in the name of the bottom line.
Is Your Brand Authentic?
To recap, an authentic brand is transparent, communicative, consistent, honest, and above all else, provides long-term value–not just a product or service–to its customers. If you can check off all the boxes, you’re well on your way to building an authentic brand!