How To Create An Authentic Brand

We are living through times of extreme uncertainty – the global Covid-19 pandemic, political turmoil, energy crisis and the climate emergency. All this impacts business and it is not always easy to navigate the way forward for your own business. However, one thing remains clear: strong, authentic brands that inspire their audience and connect with both customers and end-consumers will continue to outperform brands that do not. In brand building, being genuine is key. Data after data constantly and consistently proves that consumers want to support brands that they see as authentic and that share and practice their values. That’s why business leaders need to focus on creating a brand that encourages genuine connections and loyalty.

An authentic brand has a clear vision and purpose, a sense of why the brand exists, what it offers and why this matters. And is backed up by a business that genuinely lives and breathes that vision and purpose in every brand action and interaction with its target audiences.

For any company interested to build an authentic brand, it means starting with the basics and identifying what you want to stand for and then living up to your promise. Making true on your word leads to stronger connections: your audience will now if you are genuine in your messaging and will be able to tell if you live up to your purpose and do what you say you will do. Developing a brand is both a creative venture and a journey of discovery.

Here are ten things to know and do:

  1. Be True To Your Brand, When Telling Your Story

An authentic brand starts with being real and honest and businesses should be true to their brand when telling their story.

  1. Empathy

Empathy is the secret and is done by listening to the needs of the customer and what they want you to create. Stepping into their shoes and listening to their feedback also grows engagement. This means engaging with your customers and allows you to build brand loyalty and connections.

  1. Core Values

Start with your company values and these must be what you truly believe. The public are tired of hearing platitudes from companies that don’t mean anything. When you know what you’re about, so will your employees, and so will your customers. Those who believe what you believe will connect with your brand on a personal level and that fosters loyalty.

  1. Truthful

If your core values are honest, then it is easy to be truthful. Consumers, employees, and investors are hungry for honest brands. Being able to tell the truth, means that you are relatable as a brand and will avoid any greenwashing risks. Leverage the power of story and ditch the buzzwords. This is the foundation to building a successful brand.

  1. Focus On Your Brand Voice

One of the elements of creating an authentic brand is being authentic and staying faithful to your tone of voice. Generate content and share insights in an appealing and honest way. Your target audience, particularly your loyal followers/customers will be able to identify anything that’s not authentic in your content. This will also allow you to be different in a crowded marketplace.

7. Stay True To Your Brand Promise

Being authentic means upholding your brand promise and communicating transparently through surveys and a feedback loop between product, sales, and marketing. Know who your clients are and what are their needs —this will drive innovation and your authenticity.

8. Commit To Living Your Values, Mission, and Vision

To connect authentically with your customers, you must live your values, mission, and vision through everything you do. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Consumers crave authentic leadership. The first step to creating an authentic brand is to have authentic founders who are passionate about the mission and who connect with their audience.

  1. Be Careful Of Who You Collaborate/Partner With

So many brands risk their own identities by partnering with others that are not aligned with their purpose or core values. When businesses or organisations do this, it can cause an immediate backlash, lose loyal customers, and create negative publicity. Recognise the value of your own brand and be rigorous of who you decide to collaborate with, and this includes supply chains, sponsorship and if taking donations. Ignorance is no longer bliss, it is a risk.

10. Community

A thriving social media community is one of the biggest wins for any brand and participating in conversations is where you’ll be able to demonstrate your authenticity the most.

Rather than only broadcasting marketing messages, develop a social media strategy that involves creating content that’s genuinely useful, informative, or entertaining to your audience, and cultivates real engagement.

Building an authentic brand does not happen overnight, it takes time and like building any relationship. It is important to be patient, listen to feedback from followers, and learn as you go. Plus, it is also a continuous process and not a one-time activity. It is a constant practice of discovering what your brand means for your consumers. No matter which industry you are in, brand identity is critical for business success in today’s times. As outlined here, a honest brand can connect with consumers and establish a brand value that goes way beyond profits and revenues.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sangeeta Waldron
Sangeeta Waldron is an award-winning public relation professional and founder of Serendipity PR & Media. Her latest book, 'Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations' is out now in India, published by Jaico Publishing. She is also a guest lecturer and international speaker.

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