How to Build an Authentic Brand

By Madison Taylor
February 8, 2021
Female looking up at bulletin board with sticky notes

Fully 90 percent of millennials say that authenticity is important when choosing which brands to support, as well as 85 percent of Gen Xers and 80 percent of Boomers. Armed with this information, how does a company build an authentic brand aligned with its customers’ values and desires? Honesty is the Best Policy.

The foundation of brand authenticity is remembering why you created your business in the first place — to solve a problem, fill a need, or serve a specific purpose in the world. It’s essential to own and convey that purpose when speaking to your customers.

If you want to build your customer’s trust and loyalty, you need to show them that you hold the same values that they do in an authentic, honest way. That primary value could be anything — environmental sustainability, long-lasting products, fair labor practices, social justice, or whatever it is that your company embodies — but it needs to be real. If your company claims to represent values that it doesn’t, your customers will find out, and your business will likely suffer as a result.

Tell a Story

Facts and figures might be accurate, but they’re not compelling. People want to hear stories, and they want to believe that those stories are more than just marketing fluff designed to attract customers. Your customers want content that’s helpful, relevant, and emotionally resonant.

Your business exists to help people solve problems, and chances are, you have clients whose businesses or lives have been significantly improved by the products and services you provided them. Embrace those true stories to tell other prospects what they can expect from you and how you value your clientele.

Tell the story of yourself, too. Tell your customers how you came up with the idea for your business, how you got it off the ground, and how you came to represent the values you now hold dear. Show your customers the people behind the brand, and they’ll connect with you on an emotional level and trust you to care about the same things they do.

Own Your Mistakes

Every company makes mistakes or experiences mishaps from time to time. When things go wrong, don’t deny the problem to your customers or promise that it’ll never happen again — these are empty gestures, and any savvy consumer can see right through them.

Instead, share with your customers what happened, why it happened, and the steps you’re taking to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again. Many companies think they can control the conversation around their problems, downplaying the situation or hiding it entirely. This simply isn’t true anymore. If you don’t take ownership of your mistakes or challenges, someone else will tell the story for you.

Your customers might be unhappy in the short term, and there’s a chance you’ll lose business. But in the long term, customers reward honesty, openness, and a willingness to fix what’s broken. It’s in your company’s best interest to admit your imperfections in the interest of fostering trust.

Be Yourself

Today’s consumers aren’t interested in the glossy facade that many brands previously used to cover their shortcomings. They’re savvy, intelligent, and well-informed. They want a brand that’s honest and forthcoming and whose values match their own, and they know how to recognize brands that don’t fit that description.

If your company is to carve out a niche for itself in a crowded digital marketplace, it will have to make a genuine, straightforward appeal to the people whose issues you understand and whose problems you can solve. Don’t pretend that your company is something that it’s not — build a loyal customer base around what it truly is.