Authenticity is not a brand value. Authenticity is knowing what your brand values and then living them.
Stop using authenticity as a catch-all for what you hope to be… take the time to define the values your brand represents.
What is authentic?
By definition, authentic is real or genuine: not copied or false: true and accurate: made to be or look just like an original.
When it comes to branding and marketing, we’ve all heard that consumers today want authenticity from the brands they become loyal to…. Especially if those consumers are Millennials and Generation Z. And those two segments of the population represent 144 million people. That is a huge number – which also means that most businesses have a portion of their target audience in these segments. So brands want to be authentic…. Even if they don’t know exactly what that means.
How do you KNOW if a brand is authentic?
Let’s think about this for a few minutes: Authenticity is subjective, meaning each person is going to interpret authenticity differently. So how can a brand be authentic?
As we’ve navigated through the pandemic, brands have ended up between the rock and hard place. They need to acknowledge the pandemic and what it means to their clients while also remaining true to who they are.
And the collective understanding of being authentic seems to be equated to empathy or caring for a cause – think sustainability, education, health, or politics. Last March and April, every brand was coming out with messages to empathize with what the collective world was dealing with as it relates to Covid.
If I tell you my brand for Austin Marketing is authentic to me – how do you know that? What does that even mean?
If I go on to tell you I value empathy, honesty, and being true to your purpose. And I exhibit those values through my communications and actions – I am being true to who I am through those actions. I’m being authentic. But that is my subjective opinion.
I’ve had clients tell me authenticity is a core value of theirs. My next question is always – what does that mean? Give me examples of what you say and do that is authentic.
Don’t tell me you are authentic. SHOW me you are authentic.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Authenticity: The Buzzword of 2020
- Behind the buzzword: What authenticity means for your marketing strategy
- Survey finds consumers crave authenticity – and user-generated content delivers
- How 10 inspiring brands share their brand values through content
- 5 companies with core values that stand above the rest
- Rachel Hollis compared herself to Harriet Tubman and things get messier from there
- Your allyship is performative if you can’t take accountability
- Brene on Armored versus Daring Leadership, part 1
- Brene on Armored versus Daring Leadership, part 2
- The Pursuit of Purpose archive