Or Original, reliable, dependable, genuine, real, bonafide.
‘Authenticity, pure and simple, has moved from business hygiene to an opportunity for real differentiation for those willing to embrace it. And the reward is enhanced brand equity, customer loyalty, and marketplace differentiation’ – David.B.Srere, Co-CEO, Chief Strategy Officer, Siegel+Gale
People love authenticity – in other people and brands. So, what makes a brand perceived as being authentic. Pretty much what makes a person come across as one.
Honesty and Integrity Does the brand live up to its promise? Is the brand and the organisation true to its projected values? Do employees believe in the brand and the organisation? Does the organisation culture promote basic human values of hard work, empathy, support within its ranks?
Ability to own up to flaws and mistakes ‘We goofed up!’ is not taboo. Everyone makes a mistake and brands are not immune to it either. The difference, however, is in how the communication of it is handled amongst stakeholders. A coverup and defensive mindset is more damaging than thought. Whereas a truthful acknowledgement, a heartfelt apology or owning up and if possible, tactics to make up for it – all exhibit a touch of vulnerability, making the brand more relatable and endearing. It also puts some power in the consumer’s hand and people can be very forgiving.
Transparency Transparency is being upfront, honest and accessible with regards to information, communications and at times processes. For example, DeBeers are investing in diamond traceability platforms that use technologies like blockchain to document and secure a diamond’s provenance and increase transparency along the pipeline. An immense step forward in introducing transparency along the journey of a diamond from it source to destination.
Heritage / History / Legacy Consumers love a brand with a history and some heritage. If there’s a story to tell about the brand or product processes, origins, beliefs, sources etc. that infuse old school genuineness into the brand, go for it. Share it.
Purpose beyond profit This is the biggie. Nothing speaks ‘authenticity’ louder than a brand invested in a purpose or a cause, that goes beyond profits. It should also not be just lip service, but an honest belief that percolates down from the company vision and down the ranks within an organisation. It could be the green practices followed in the manufacturing process or at the company office. Or a part of proceeds going to a cause. Or engaging with local communities in a supportive way. There are a gazillion ways.
Assuming skills and work ethos in place, the future is about how likeable you are, be it as a person or a brand.