Being authentic to the brand's values, being true to what the brand stands for.

Being authentic to the brand’s values, being true to what the brand stands for.

More than ever before, brand authenticity is a key factor to a company’s success. Brand owners, marketers, C-suites are noticing the shifts: no longer satisfied with a mere brand promise, consumers craving authenticity, now hold brands accountable to their claims.

What this means for companies and marketers is that there needs to be plenty of walking the talk and being the most true version of itself. So what is and how do we manage brand authenticity? How should companies navigate these tricky waters where a company no longer has immunity from the scrutiny of consumers for having just a good enough product or service?

From CEO to operations, from sales and marketing to legal department – everyone on board needs to exemplify brand authenticity, or risk losing favour in the eyes of consumers. Here are three aspects we think every business owner, CEO, marketer needs to have in mind in winning trust for your brand:

The Age of User-Generated Content

A recent Stackla survey involving 1,590 consumers and 150 B2C marketers from the US, UK and Australia revealed the polarizing viewpoint of what constitutes authenticity.

Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to favour UGC as being authentic. Marketers are understandably on a different page – they are 2.1 times more likely to perceive brand-created content as more authentic.  While marketers view brand-generated content as an accurate and authentic way to understand the brand and what it stands for, consumers today are instead leaning towards user-generated content (UGC), seeing UGC as a more authentic form of content.

Hardly surprising, with social media platforms as tools to communicate and share ideas with just about anybody readily available. Consumers now have information a click and search away, and a myriad of brands to choose from and pledge loyalty to – anytime they wish. Building trust with consumers now means involving them in the conversation.

Where brands used to have more control over how their brand is perceived by the consumer, now a brand may be better understood as what consumers talk about your company. The role of the consumer is evolving, and business owners must engage people in as authentic a way possible.

CEO Tip #1:Consider using UGC in your marketing campaigns to give people the assurance of authenticity, and generate natural conversations with your target customers.

Sorry Ain’t the Hardest Word

Today’s consumers are sometimes said to lack brand loyalty. Sometimes, however, they do give brands a second chance when sorry seems to be the hardest word. Consider the case of Domino’s Pizza Turnaround. Launched by its CEO, Patrick Doyle, the turnaround was a revival project to give the then-faltering brand a new life. Brand authenticity is built on company culture, which starts from a company’s leaders.

Domino’s took ownership of its shortcomings by voluntarily sharing unflattering reviews of its own shortcomings like: “Domino’s pizza crust to me … is like cardboard,” the “worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had” and “boring, artificial, imitation of what pizza can be.”

With that as the foundation, it then launched its branding campaign involving the CEO, various senior management as well as some unsatisfied customers. It took a very sincere and honest approach to managing the poor perception people had of its pizzas.

This full-fledged commitment slowly won over consumers’ hearts and trust. With this strategy, the brand started seeing people buy Domino’s pizzas. Its stock rose by 130%, and today Domino’s is the world’s biggest pizza chain, surpassing Pizza Hut.

CEO Tip #2:Don’t shy away from ‘bad press’, instead think of winning consumers over with authenticity and sincere efforts to resolve issues. Communicated well, this becomes a way for consumers to trust your company’s intentions.

Trust Beyond Profits

Consumers previously content with decent prices and acceptable quality for product and services have evolved. Increasing activism in today’s society is putting many companies in the spotlight, holding them accountable for the negative effects of their practices.

Major brands are under growing pressure from campaigners and consumers to address the exploitative nature of their global supply chains in the bid to provide low-priced products. In 2018, H&M, the world’s second largest fashion retailer, has been called out by the Clean Clothes Campaign to ensure its suppliers pay a living wage to some 850,000 textile workers by the end of the year. In the same year, its sales dropped as much as 10 per cent in Singapore and Malaysia while losing millennial customers in the region.

Consumers want to support brands that represent values aligned to their personal values, and with a wave of people sensitive towards issues of sustainability and eco-living, the relationship between brand and consumer can be a little confusing. Consumer opinion and voice is now playing a bigger role in shaping the way a company does things, and how a brand is built.

CEO Tip #3:Build trust, not merely profits. Approach business objectives with values in mind – what does your company believe in, work towards, stand for?

While brand authenticity is the fundamental element of a brand’s success, it is not a fixed formula. All brands are subject to the ebb and flow of the market. Remaining nimble and adapting to the shifts and developments of the market is as important as building brand authenticity.

We are most excited when we get to help brands ride the undercurrents and waves to go far. Want us to help you be a company with brand authenticity? Have a chat with us, and let’s see which immediate steps you can take.