Because of the internet, customers are armed with more knowledge than ever before making purchases. They want to feel connected to the brands they engage with and increasingly want to support brands that are authentic. Additionally, they want brands to have real dialogue about what’s happening in the world.
Why does brand authenticity matter to customers? Essentially, they are tired of the baloney. Before the internet, brands controlled the purchasing behavior of their customers and were able to be disingenuous… for years. Nowadays, customers are in full control of how they interact with brands.
If you are struggling to grow your business or improve your brand, you may need to do more to convey authenticity to your customers and prospects.
Build trusted relationships with customers and prospects
When you break it down, a business is a relationship between a brand and a customer. Relationships are essential to authenticity, but strong relationships are not built overnight. Consider how customers interact with your brand over an extended period.
Every touch point with your customers is an opportunity to build a relationship and live up to your brand’s promise. You should always demonstrate that you appreciate your customers through proactive customer experience and personalized communications. This can be as simple as including the customer’s first name in the emails you send out. Authentic brands use this personalization coupled with a conscious effort to deliver a promise, and ultimately build trust.
Another effective way to nurture your relationships with your customers is to share user-generated content. This not only makes them feel involved in your brand story, but it also makes them feel invited to become a part of a bigger change you may want to make in the world.
Engage customers and prospects in conversation
Open communication is a must for any successful relationship. It is important to be approachable and willing to interact with costumes and prospects. A great way to do this is by engaging with them on social media channels. Show up where your target customers hang out. Be friendly and make yourself approachable.
These conversations humanize your brand. The key is to make sure it is a dialogue where you are talking to your customers, and not at them. That means listening is almost more important than what you say. Ask them about their concerns and always respond in kind by providing actionable advice and answers—with no strings attached.
Be consistent with your branding and messaging
Customers expect a level of consistency and dependability from the brands they support. If your company is sending out mixed signals, how can they trust that you’re sincere in your efforts to help them?
Once your brand story is established, make sure it is consistent and aligned across all platforms. After developing a unique and strong brand identity, use it uniformly on your digital material online and your printed material offline. This includes the logo you use for your business, as well as your company name. Present a consistent, clear message and image to make your brand more engaging and trustworthy.
Stay true to your company’s values
Authentic brands have moral, social, and corporate values they strive to uphold. The best brands make their principles and values a core part of their business and do not compromise on them.
Company values and principles start from the top down. As a business owner, it’s up to you to choose what is important and integrate that throughout your brand and your organization. If you want your customers to continue supporting your brand, one of the worst things you can do is sit on the sidelines. Customers want to support authentic brands that are genuinely standing for something.
Ben & Jerry’s is a great example of a brand that weaves environmental and social justice activism throughout its core messaging and business model. While most business owners opt to keep their personal beliefs out of their business, Ben & Jerry’s rely on the owners’ personal moral code to create a corporate culture that serves as an example for value-driven businesses. For one, the brand makes their ice cream with fair trade ingredients and the products are non-GMO. Ben & Jerry’s is also vocal on social media and in practice with its bold, progressive political stances surrounding racial justice, marriage equality, environmental/climate justice, and eliminating corporate influence from politics. Although customers know Ben & Jerry’s for its tasty ice cream, the brand is beloved for its values and mission.
Be honest and transparent
Authentic brands display honesty and transparency. If you want your customers to commit to you, your brand must be worthy of trust.
Honesty shows your customers that their respect is important to you. The most trustworthy brands give customers a view of the company and what makes it work. In the crowded brand marketing space, honesty stands out
Brands are run by humans and can make mistakes along the way. Be conscious of your strengths and weaknesses, and admit when you’ve fallen short. Issue an apology when one is deserved and stand by it. Besides, showing a sense of accountability is one of the most human things a business can do, and customers will appreciate that. Doing business with transparency cultivates both a trusting corporate culture and a strong, authentic brand.
Your Brand's Authenticity
Establishing your company’s brand authenticity comes from the top of the organization and permeates throughout. Marketing as an authentic brand should begin with investing the time to discover what core values are important for your brand and ensuring that the messaging aligns with your actions. It is also vital to remember that customers expect businesses to stand for something besides profits and understanding they will not do business with you if they sense you are inauthentic. They expect more transparency, honesty, and aligned values from brands they support.
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by Guest Author Ken Gosnell, Chief Experience Officer of CEO Experience