Marketers like to toss around the word ‘authenticity’ when describing brands. This new buzzword has played a major part in how companies are defining their missions and creating their processes when building a brand. Backed by a number of studies, this buzzword is here to stay and will only become more important to the success of your business.
Is authenticity just a fancy word for honesty?
Honesty is an important part of being authentic, but in terms of describing a brand – there is more to the definition. To be authentic means to uphold a certain level of integrity which includes total honesty and transparency.
The Journal of Consumer Psychology defines it as “The extent to which consumers perceive a brand to be faithful toward itself, true to its consumers, motivated by caring and responsibility, and able to support consumers in being true to themselves.”
1. Is your brand faithful to itself?
Does your company's brand have consistent messaging and missions that weather consumer trends and industry changes?
2. Is your brand true to its consumers?
Are you ‘as advertised’? To be a credible and authentic brand it’s important that you fulfill promises and values to your customers.
3. Is your brand built on integrity?
Is your mission statement based on moral principles and does it stay true to its values?
4. Does your company's brand add meaning or create value?
Is your brand perpetuating value or is it important to what people care about?
Over the last couple of decades, consumer behavior has evolved, and now traditional marketing techniques are no longer seeing results. With convention out the door – businesses are having to shift how and what they are communicating to their customers.
It’s no surprise that Millennials and Generation Z are shopping differently than their predecessors. For Millennials, brand authenticity is second only to loyalty discounts in importance when choosing companies to support, according to the BCG study.
On the other hand, inauthenticity can be detrimental to a brand. For example, when United Airlines publicly responded to the passenger being dragged off – the corporation came out with two different messages within 24 hours, the messages contradicted one another. Not only did this result in public confusion, it's hypocrisy created distrust among the public.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is another important factor in creating an authentic brand. Corporate social responsibility is “a type of business self-regulation with the aim of social accountability and making a positive impact on society. Some ways that a company can embrace CSR include being environmentally friendly and eco-conscious; promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace; treating employees with respect; giving back to the community; and ensuring business decisions are ethical.”
Over the years, people have become more and more socially conscious. Employees and customers place a high value on working for and spending money on businesses that focus on CSR.
“To ensure CSR authenticity, a company should look at its values, business mission and core issues and determine which initiatives best align with the business’s goals and culture.”
Here at Revel, we are a company that aligns our beliefs with our actions. In conjunction with our company values (innovation, accountability, integrity and diversity), we also have a purpose, which includes feeding our clients’ passions, creating great futures for our team members, being the industry leader as the “People POS,” and making a difference in the communities we serve.
Companies are held accountable when it comes to having corporate social responsibility. It is critical that a brand has a positive brand image and takes CSR into consideration when building a brand image.
Some ways companies can show brand authenticity through CSR is by advocating and raising awareness for socially important causes. This is a chance for companies to showcase their core values and give back to the community.
A statistic that shows how CSR can make a brand more successful says that “Companies that the public considers highly impactful demonstrated a brand value growth of 175% over 12 years, while businesses with a low positive impact showed only 70% growth.”
Other ways businesses can practice corporate social responsibility are through environmental efforts, philanthropy, ethical labor practices and volunteering. Some companies that showcase this are LEGO, TOMS, Johnson &Johnson, Starbucks, Google and Pfizer. These companies all played a role in impacting the globe and strive to help the communities around the world. Here are some examples of how these companies have built an authentic brand:
TOMS creates brand authenticity through charitable donations (one-third of their net profits) that support physical and mental health as well as educational opportunities.
Starbucks shows brand authenticity through having a socially responsible hiring process. They strive to create and have a diverse workforce and are focused around hiring more veterans, young people looking to start their careers, and refugees.
Here at Revel, we show brand authenticity in many ways. One way is that Revel allocates a portion of our annual revenues to support four amazing nonprofit organizations based in the cities where we have major offices— including Atlanta, Georgia, San Francisco, California and Vilnius, Lithuania—along with one national organization for the United States. Companies include Giving Kitchen, City of Refugee, Family Giving Tree and Lietaus Vaikai.
Financial contributions are only one way to make a difference. This is why, in addition to our annual corporate sponsorships, we empower our employees with the option to take a paid day of service to volunteer for opportunities of their choosing each year. Together we work to make life better in the places where we live and work.Having an authentic brand gives people a reason to care.
Without taking the initiative to build your brand around brand authenticity and have corporate social responsibility, success of your business won’t be as high. Brand value is dependent on these authenticity and CSR and without them, employees and customers will steer away. Focus on these factors when thinking about your products and services and watch your business thrive.