Creating An Authentic Brand: 7 Actionable Steps To Take
There’s no dearth of discussions regarding brand awareness, brand recall, brand identity, and other aspects of branding. But what about brand authenticity? Not many talk about the need for brand authenticity and the ways to create an authentic brand. However, as we see an increase in responsible shopping behavior and as consumers are now better equipped with information about brands and their backgrounds, brand authenticity matters now more than ever.
Whereas brand authenticity is a pretty broad and vague term, don’t you agree? There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to branding. Furthermore, with brands pushing the boundaries to keep up with their competition and retain their audience, the typical definition of marketing has been expanding.
On the other side, with the Reels trends dominating content consumers, the sense of what’s real has been fading. As in, it’s become tougher than ever to judge content on social media. Therefore, it’s important for brands to prioritize transparency to nurture honest interactions with their customers. After all, good branding is about being true to your brand’s roots and to your customers.
With that said, let’s talk about the whole concept of creating an authentic brand beginning with a definition of brand authenticity and some facts to prove that this is the need of the hour.
- Brand authenticity – the basics
- Why brand authenticity is important – statistics that prove the point
- Building an authentic brand – 7 tips to see results
- 1. Start with a logo that resonates with your brand
- 2. Use social media to your advantage
- 3. Pay attention to every customer conversation
- 4. Focus on brand storytelling
- 5. Empathy is an indispensable asset to create an authentic brand
- 6. Make the most of advocacy advertising
- 7. Share user-generated content
- Build an authentic brand with visuals designed by Kimp
Brand authenticity – the basics
Brand authenticity feels like a marketing buzzword. However, the truth is, the definition is as straightforward as it sounds. An authentic brand is one that stays true to its purpose. It is a brand that has clear and honest messaging from the first interaction with its customers. In short, if a brand delivers what it promises, it is an authentic brand.
An authentic brand aims for three core elements in branding which are:
- A clear brand purpose – of course, it all begins with understanding and clearly laying down what the brand stands for. Brand purpose acts as the differentiator that gives the brand a reason to stand in an already crowded market.
- Transparency – an authentic brand hides nothing. From the process to the products, from raw materials to the workflow, authentic brands talk about what happens behind the scene more openly. And this helps customers understand the brand better.
- Consistency – it’s not enough to define the brand’s purpose. The ads, social media posts, and other brand communication assets need to stay on the same page. The marketing designs and brand designs should look and feel the same. In short, the various customer touchpoints should deliver a consistent experience to the customers.
Brand Authenticity = Clear Brand Purpose + Transparency + Consistency
Why brand authenticity is important – statistics that prove the point
Research shows that about 88% of consumers prioritize authenticity as an important metric while comparing brands and choosing one to stick with. But yes, the way different consumers gauge brand authenticity varies.
Most importantly, brand authenticity is not just a factor for competitive advantage but also one that influences how much customers are willing to pay for particular products/services. A 2022 Consumer Research Report by Salsify shows that about 46% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for brands they trust. In other words, creating an authentic brand out of your business also gives you the flexibility to experiment with a profitable and justifiable pricing strategy.
In addition to all these factors, there’s the topic of nurturing emotional connections with customers for better brand growth. After all, customers are more likely to be emotionally invested in an authentic brand.
Building an authentic brand – 7 tips to see results
Finally, we’ve come to the most crucial question – how can you build an authentic brand? The irony is that brands don’t plan to appear phony but sometimes, their ads, their interactions with their customers or their branding measures make them appear so. For example, sometimes, a seemingly harmless ad delivers a message that goes against what the brand says it stands for and the brand starts losing customers.
In fact, most instances of negative virality for brands have been due to such contradictions in branding. Let’s talk about some ways in which businesses can avoid this and work towards creating an authentic brand.
1. Start with a logo that resonates with your brand
If you are skeptical about the role played by a logo in creating brand authenticity, let’s begin our discussion with the British Petroleum logo redesign debacle.
In the year 2000, British Petroleum came up with a refreshed logo design. The new symbol in the logo represents the sun, to capture the idea of the brand’s decision to be more environmentally aware. But with the brand’s history of oil spills, consumers felt that the logo did not align with the brand. Some even called out the brand for greenwashing.
As you can see, your logo carries forward your brand’s story. It stands as a visual reminder of your brand personality. So, if your logo and your brand purpose do not align, your brand’s authenticity takes a bad hit.
Kimp Tip: To avoid such mismatches in branding and to create an authentic visual representation of your brand, stick with a simple and timeless design. When you go for combination mark logos, choose the logo symbols wisely. These should be symbols that tell your brand’s story or help customers recall your brand easily.
Need help designing authentic logos for your brand? Sign up for a Kimp subscription.
2. Use social media to your advantage
In the physical world, you have your store to create experiences. But how do you do that in the virtual world? You create websites. But is that all? There’s an even more powerful platform that can provide a virtual and accurate sampler of your brand experience. Yes, we are talking about social media.
In fact, with social commerce catching up rapidly, some brands and stores exist only on social media. In such cases, social media interactions are the only real brand experiences.
Whether social media is to augment the experience you deliver or it is the only channel for you to reach your customers, you should know that it can be a significant influencer of brand authenticity.
For example, Glossier is a brand that is known to have created quite a buzz on social media. The brand was launched on Instagram and slowly but steadily, this social media platform was utilized to build an authentic brand that’s now very popular in the beauty industry.
From the creation of the logo to the initial stages of packaging and marketing, the brand shared glimpses into its growth on social media. Keeping them informed of what’s happening backstage makes them feel closer to the brand.
Kimp Tip: When you leverage social media to build an authentic brand, remember to tell your story in a visually engaging manner. Do not restrict yourself to one content format. After all, you never know what content format the algorithm would be pushing next. A good mix of single-image posts, carousels, and videos set the stage.
Want to create a combination of graphics and motion graphics to tell your brand’s story on social media? Get Kimp!
3. Pay attention to every customer conversation
We spoke about capitalizing on social media to create an authentic brand just now by incorporating a visual delivery of the message. While you do that, also remember that it should be two-way communication. Pushing content out there, constantly posting videos, and sharing Story posts will not be of much help if you do not converse with your audience.
Imagine meeting someone who calls your attention, speaks his mind, and then walks away! Without a real conversation happening, will you develop trust in this person? Will this person appear “authentic”? Not at all. And brands are no different!
If you want your social media profiles or even your website to aid in strengthening brand authenticity, you should be having conversations with your customers. Not just promoting your business. What does it take to achieve this? Respond to comments, highlight feedback shared by customers – engage with them.
Need inspiration on how to do this, on how to start conversations, or even respond to customer comments? The Netflix Twitter page is a great place, to begin with.
From Retweeting fan content to leaving epic comments, Netflix’s Twitter page has plenty of lessons on having authentic conversations with customers. Take this response that Netflix posted in defense of Brie Larson.
Without a doubt, responses like these help humanize your brand and make it appear authentic.
4. Focus on brand storytelling
Did you know that when you present facts in the form of a story, they are about 20 times more likely to be remembered? What if you used this idea to get people to remember little details about your brand? Through brand storytelling, you are familiarizing your customers with your brand and therefore building trust little by little.
Moreover, storytelling also helps you play with perspectives and achieve brand differentiation. Through the right stories told at the right time, you evoke the right emotions for better customer relationships in the long run.
Take Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial for Macintosh for example. Instead of talking about the product, what it does, and how it looks, the ad explains what the brand achieves by introducing the product. That is the ad depicts how the introduction of the product aims to break the existing monotony in computing devices. Additionally, the ad clearly captures the brand’s personality of daring to be different.
A simple ad promoting a computer might not be as memorable and authentic as an ad packed with a story, like the above ad. Naturally, you need ads like these to create an authentic brand.
5. Empathy is an indispensable asset to create an authentic brand
Empathy is a must-have trait to build an authentic brand. To be empathetic you need to understand your customers, and their pain points. Use social media and other communication channels to acknowledge these pain points and provide ways to address them.
In other words, observe, listen to your customers and understand what they are looking for and provide them with this information. On doing this, your brand authenticity gets a boost as customers start looking up to your brand for credible information.
We’ll explain this with an example. Several cosmetic brands promote themselves as using “truly natural” ingredients. But there’s no way for customers to know whether there’s truth in this. Lush Cosmetics wanted to change that. The video series from the brand, “How It’s Made”, shows what goes into the making of the most popular products from the brand.
The idea worked for Lush Cosmetics. The brand was able to come up with and successfully execute the idea only because it managed to empathize with its customers. Also because it listened to and addressed their queries.
Customers trust what they see with their own eyes. They need to trust a business to perceive it as an authentic brand.
6. Make the most of advocacy advertising
Advocacy advertising is the art of creatively using ads to stand for a cause. And it matters now more than ever. We’ll tell you why.
Ecommerce and social commerce often limit the human contact that consumers feel during brand interactions. This creates an invisible barrier between brands and consumers. To avoid this, brands are always on the lookout for ways to appear more human and less like a “name”. That’s where the advantage of taking a stand comes into the picture.
Nearly 70% of consumers expect brands to take a stand for critical causes. Because people know the kind of influence brands have on their audiences. Therefore, they want brands to put this to good use. The whole process significantly boosts your brand authenticity as well.
Nike is perhaps the name that keeps popping up when you talk about brands getting real and taking a stand for a cause. In fact, Nike’s Instagram page filled with inspirational content about people in sports and random sports facts is a good example.
Nike’s “For Once, Don’t Do It” was a well-received campaign that shows how brands can voice their opinions in the most impactful way.
This socially conscious ad against racism was a creative and thought-provoking variation of the brand’s tagline. Subtle ads like these are enough to display your brand’s authenticity.
What are the issues you can take a stand for? Well, there are several topics that deserve to be discussed but do not get due attention on social media. These include:
- Climate change
- Healthcare concerns
- Labor laws
- Gender bias
- LGBTQ+ rights
Identify the cause that best resonates with your brand, your processes, and what your business stands for. That’s how you create an authentic campaign that does not look fake.
7. Share user-generated content
One of the most impactful ways to establish an authentic brand is by sharing user-generated content. The idea behind this is simple – people trust people better than big brands. They trust a brand better when they hear about actual customer experiences.
Social proof is the best influencer of brand image. Because when real people with no affiliation to the brand talk about it, the conversations cover nuances that are not available on the website. Additionally, user-generated content paints a more realistic picture of your brand and the products/services you deliver. This makes it easier for skeptical leads to understand how authentic a brand is and therefore helps them move ahead in the sales funnel.
Moreover, when you share user-generated content on social media and on your website, you are showing customers that you value their opinions. This in turn helps strengthen customer relationships.
One way to increase your user-generated content reserve will be to work on a follow-up marketing strategy targeting customers after an order. Encourage them to leave a review and provide them direct links to your business page on Google and social media pages to simplify their job.
Kimp Tip: User-generated content can be in various formats like:
- Photos that customers share
- Video testimonials
- Screenshots of reviews that customers share on social media
- Reshared customer posts on social media
- YouTube videos showing reviews from actual customers
When it comes to content variety, more is always better. Variety makes it easier to create a more coherent story out of these customer reviews in order to build an authentic brand.
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Build an authentic brand with visuals designed by Kimp
Inferring from the facts and examples shared above, visuals have a critical role to play across all channels of communication. And as your brand grows and your customer touchpoints increase, your design requirements increase as well. Want to keep up with these growing design requirements and scale your brand’s marketing strategy effortlessly? An unlimited design subscription might be just what you need.
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