Keeping it Real: How to Achieve Brand Authenticity

Authenticity may be one of the most overused words of 2019 but it’s overused for a reason – especially when it comes to marketing. 90% of consumers factor in authenticity when supporting brands, proving that it’s the ultimate goal when it comes to engaging your audiences. So, to help you keep your customers happy, we’ve put together some key tips to remaining authentic…

Related Read: Global Tribes: A New Way to Connect With Your Audience

Stay Woke

‘Woke advertising’ is a hot topic, and quite rightly, since most brands get it so wrong. All too often, brands are more than happy to support an important cause in theory, but not in practice. For example, in early 2019, Norway’s consumer watchdog claimed that H&M were greenwashing, stating that the brand didn’t provide enough substantial evidence regarding the sustainability of its Conscious range on their website. This lack of transparency makes a brand seem inauthentic.

What’s the key to genuine wokeness? Brands should aim to do good, but should also own up to their weaknesses by producing reports, brand statements, manifestos etc. A brand doing this really well is Patagonia, whose mission statement reveals Patagonia’s positive steps towards tackling climate change, but also points to areas of the business that need to improve.

Keep Away From the Kardashians 

When targeting their global or local audiences, it’s vital that brands don’t just base their marketing strategy on stereotypes. Brands should do their research to ensure that they truly understand the audience. Equally, when utilising the artwork, language or ideas of a global community, brands must be careful not to appropriate. In short, learn from the Kardashians. Who can forget Kim Kardashian’s Kimono? The brand name caused massive backlash in Japan as it appropriated an iconic part of their culture and history. The latest in a series of Kardashian cultural blunders.

Related Read: #BrandStrategy: Creating a Digital Community for Your Brand

Be Original

People judge brands on what they’re putting out into the world. What customers want is fresh content they’ve not seen before, whether it be merchandise, ads, social content or shopper experiences. And they want this content to reflect the personality of the brand. 

Sadly, there’s a trend amongst many global brands to poach the ideas or artwork from emerging creatives. For example, a number of artists, like Tuesday Bassen and Adam Kurtz, have spoken out against Zara who appeared to have stolen the artists’ work. Be wary of this kind of behaviour; copycatting suggests that a brand isn’t honest to others or to their own creative vision, so it’s a big no-no when authenticity is the goal.

Don’t be Afraid of the Feels

Emotion is one of the key factors when it comes to customers deciding whether to purchase or not. Brands can tap into this by creating authentic emotional connections with their customers. How can they do this? By knowing what they stand for. Whatever they choose to call it – a value, ethos or purpose – brands should have a reason for being that customers can relate to. 

A brand’s story and the way they tell their stories should always reflect their purpose. For example, Ikea values the beauty in everyday life, with slogans like ‘Where Life Happens’ and the more recent ‘The Wonderful Everyday’. Their ads often play on consumer heartstrings. Their recent Ikea Greece ad tells the story of a dog adopted by a loving family but split from his best friend. At the close of the ad, the family adopt the other dog, reuniting the pair to create the perfect home. Heartwarming and true to Ikea’s purpose, this ad feels authentically emotional and on-brand. 

Related Read: #TBT: The Art of Nostalgia Marketing

Get Personal 

When communicating with customers, it’s no use relying on auto-generated responses; customers expect their engagements with a brand to feel human. This means using the brand’s tone of voice to speak to customers in a personality-packed way. 

Of course, this gets trickier on a global scale – brands have to make sure they understand the way people speak in different regions and localities around the world. Replying to a customer with an English pun may seem witty, but not if it alienates a target audience in France or Germany. Brands seem inauthentic if their voice doesn’t reflect their markets. Thus, a strong community management and localisation strategy is essential for maintaining global brand authenticity.

Related Read: From Laptops to Lattes – How Big Brands Create Cult Followings

Key Takeaways:

  • Strive to do good and own up to your mistakes
  • Be careful not to appropriate  
  • Create original content, products and services
  • Make sure your strategy is always on-brand 
  • Connect with your customers through your brand ethos 
  • Implement a strong community management strategy
  • Localise your interactions with customers

If this bite-sized guide to brand authenticity gave you lots to think about, download our new guide where you’ll find more on authentic marketing, plus lots of tips on resonating with consumer communities around the world.

Natalie Thomas
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