Authenticity is important to your brand, whether you represent a small-medium business, nonprofit organization, or yourself as an individual. It’s more than a buzzword says a new global study by Cohn & Wolfe, a global communications agency.
Its 2016 study on authenticity defines what consumers believe are the individual attributes of authentic behavior and whether a brand displaying these attributes will affect consumer actions.
The study identifies a large “authenticity gap” between brands and consumers, with 75% of nearly 12,000 consumers surveyed across 14 markets indicating that brands and companies have a credibility problem.
What’s sad is that 78% of consumers do not think brands are open and honest. Ouch.
What’s an authentic brand?
According to the Australian site, Authentic Brand Index,
“Authenticity helps fuel success in today’s over-traded markets as consumers search for greater meaning and sincerity from the brands they choose – fuelled by a desire to connect with things that feel safe, certain and unambiguous.
At its heart, authenticity is about practising what you preach; being totally clear about who you are and what you do best. When a brand’s rhetoric gets out of sync with customers’ actual experiences, the brand’s integrity and future persuasiveness suffers.”
What I find most interesting is that the majority of consumers base their perceptions of authenticity on personal brand experiences, as opposed to corporate behavior at a larger scale. And, in my mind, individual brand experiences = customer experiences. In fact, how a brand directly treats a consumer (69%) is more important than how a brand treats the planet (55%) or if a brand is clear about its beliefs (59%).
So, what’s in it for your brand?
- Having an authentic brand contributes to your bottom line. Nearly 90% of global consumers will reward a brand for its authenticity.
- Authenticity yields business benefits regardless of market.
How can yours become an authentic brand?
Based on the study:
- Be Reliable: Deliver on promises and provide high quality products/services/experiences.
- Be Respectful: Treat customers well and protect customer privacy/data.
- Be Real: Communicate honestly, be genuine and real, act with integrity, and be open and honest about your business practices.
- Be consistent!
“Like all other brand touchpoints, your business’ actions should be equally consistent as its words and messages… Customers remain loyal to companies that provide the same brand experiences with every interaction. They have expectations that the products, services, and experiences they had previously will be the same the next time and after that.
Ensure that your business products, services, processes, and standards align with a customer-centric philosophy. All employees should be responsible for consistent product and service quality, behavior, and engagement.”
(Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success, ©2015)
Is your brand authentic? How do you maintain its authenticity?