Guest Column | October 23, 2019

3 Ways To Reinforce Your Brand's Authenticity

By Alexandra Frith, Retail Pro International

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Authentic brands project sincerity and approachability, and their stories resonate with customers.

Customers enjoy supporting businesses that have compelling histories, remain true to their roots and have a relatable brand message.

Shoppers Buy More From Authentic Brands

Communications agency Cohn & Wolfe recently conducted its Authentic Brands study, in which it surveyed more than 15,000 consumers across 15 markets.

Consumers rated more than 1,400 brands on the three key attributes that comprise authenticity: reliability, respectfulness and reality.

Globally, 91 percent of consumers said they'd recognize a brand for its authenticity by purchasing from, investing in or endorsing a purchase.

The number is less in the United States but is still an impressive 62 percent of respondents who say they'd be apt to purchase from a brand that they viewed as authentic.

Building your brand's authenticity is, therefore, an important strategy for cultivating and engaging customers. A few items on the to-do list would include alignment, commitment and storytelling.

1. Align Your Brand And Messaging

Align your business slogan with the way you actually how you do business.

Dust off your company slogan. Consider how it impacts your current customers, what it says to them about your brand and the ways in which it evokes an image.

Then, think about whether those answers line up with your business strategy.

For example, Audi's slogan is "Truth in Engineering," which makes little sense. That begs the question, are there lies in engineering?

Compare that to Ford's "Go further," which is appealing to customers who want to be adventurous, do a little more, etc. In addition, the company has stated the slogan performs double duty, acting as a motivator for employees as well.

A slogan is not a vision statement, but the two should complement each other.

For example, Ford's vision statement is: People working together as a lean, global enterprise to make people's lives better through automotive and mobility leadership.

The slogan ties into the vision by underscoring the company's resolve to "go further" for its employees and customers through exemplary leadership.

2. Commit To Innovation

Your customers grow, change, move and evolve. To survive all that movement, your brand needs to keep up.

Understanding who your customers -- are as well as their goals -- is critical.

For instance, outdoor apparel company Patagonia was founded as a clothing and hardware shop for mountain climbers in 1973.

Today, Patagonia sells outdoor gear for a variety of hobbies and was instrumental in the development of a number of fabrics, notably Synchilla, which doesn't pill, and Capilene polyester, which withstands the heat of a dryer better than polypropylene.

In addition, the company uses its popularity to raise awareness around environmental issues and climate change and also provides an in-depth history -- including its trials and tribulations--on its website.

3. Tell Your Story

Like Patagonia, Yankee Candle's history builds a story that is complementary to its brand.

The company's founder was a broke teenager who melted crayons to create a Christmas candle for his mother.

A neighbor asked to buy it and thus began the company's first sales cycle.

That one-man business gradually exchanged the crayons for paraffin and the operation moved from a residential kitchen to a former paper mill and then to a 1,600 sq. ft. factory store in 1983 which remains the company headquarters.

That loyalty to its roots coupled with a heartwarming inception story appeals to customers and sets the brand apart from its competition.

Being authentic, sharing history and providing transparency helps brands retain customers and improve loyalty.

As Millennials become a driving retail force, taking this kind of conversational, inclusive approach with marketing will be much more effective than traditional advertising strategies.

About The Author

One part executive, one part brand geek, three parts innovation fanatic, Alexandra Frith is a strategist, a thought leader, and someone who is really good at cracking the business growth nut. With expertise in brand story development, customer engagement, and retail technology innovation, Alexandra spent last 15 years standing up tech startups, re-establishing relevance for mature brands and creating strategic solutions that hone market relevance and position businesses for growth.