6 Ways To Use Brand Authenticity For Emotional Branding (+ Top Examples)

The value of trust among people is immeasurable. 

It’s in our DNA because for millions of years it was the difference between life or death.

People who are true to their word are trustworthy and others gravitate towards them.

The same value of trust is translated to brands. 

Brands that are true to their word are trustworthy which is the foundation all successful brands are built on.

Brand Authenticity therefore, is the level to which brands are true to their word.

Brands that are meticulous about backing up their words through actions build strong relationships with their customers with trust at the core.

6 Ways To Use Brand Authenticity To Earn Trust (Top Branding Examples)

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What is Brand Authenticity?

Brand authenticity refers to the idea of whether a brand is true to itself.

If a brand is authentic, it means it lives by its core values and what it says it does or believes aligns with its actions.

It doesn’t just talk the talk; it walks the walk through all brand behavior.

Consumers trust a brand to present a consistent version of itself, and they’ll listen and take notice when there’s a contradiction. 

In years gone by brands could (and did) make various claims that customers had few ways to disprove. 

And even if they could, they didn’t have the capacity to spread the word quickly and easliy. 

That dynamic has gone out the window with digital and social media. 

A brand’s reputation lives and dies by its ability to successfully manage brand perception, particularly online. 

You can lose customer loyalty in an instant with a broken brand promise.

Brands that build a reputation of being authentic and trustworthy do so by communicating a consistent message that aligns perfectly with consistent actions.

Generally, brand authenticity has three core elements:

Continuity – A brand being true to itself over time

Credibility – Through continuity comes trustworthiness and credibility

Integrity – More than just being honest, this is about always doing the right thing

Brands must be credible, show continuity, and act with integrity to maintain customer relationships in the modern marketplace. 

Advantages Of Brand Authenticity

Authenticity matters.

That’s because authentic brands gain trust, and trust is critical to attracting customers and fostering brand loyalty.

Here are some of the core advantages authentic brands boast.

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Emotional Connections

When consumers feel confident that you know what you’re doing, that your products and services provide solutions, and that you are who you say you are,

You build an emotional connection with them.

If your target audience has an emotional connection to your brand because of its perceived authenticity, they’re more willing to spend time and money with what you offer. 

Therefore, brand authenticity can be the difference between a customer choosing you over your competitors.

Increased Sales

In a 2021 survey, 88% of respondents said brand authenticity was a critical factor in their purchasing decisions. The younger generation and millennials particularly expect more from their brands.

What do I mean when I say “expect more”? 

To be authentic, a business needs to show that the brand stands for more than just wanting to make profits and grow as a business.

This sometimes requires a cultural shift in mindset in your approach to marketing initiatives. 

Profit is not the be all and end all. 

Don’t think

“How can we encourage consumers to purchase our products and services?’

Instead, say

“How can we communicate our brand values in everything we do?”

Therefore, authenticity relies on having clearly communicated brand values in the first place. 

Draw the line between your brand values and your brand experience, and you’ll be well on your way to presenting an authentic brand to your target audience to create loyal customers.

And so, ironically, by prioritizing your brand values in your marketing efforts, you build an authentic brand that resonates with the audience, which positively impacts the business’ bottom line. 

Brand Loyalty & Advocacy

According to Nielsen 92 percent of consumers say they trust earned media recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

There’s only so much space in the consumer’s mind as brands bombard them with messaging every day.

Loyal customers who believe in your brand act as the best brand advocates

They’ll do a lot of work spreading your message for you, helping your brand cut through the noise. 

So focus on providing a consistent and authentic experience and let your happy customers share the love.

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6 Awesome Tips To Build Brand Authenticity

If you’re looking to build an authentic brand that consumers trust, know that it doesn’t happen overnight. 

Building an authentic brand image requires a comprehensive brand strategy you stick to for the long term. 

Let’s run through some guiding principles for brand authenticity.

#1Get Real

In short, drop the facade.

We’re all well aware of the impact social media has played in our society.

People going out of their way to polish their profile and show highlight reels of their amazing insta-glam lives has become more than a sharing exercise, it’s become the focal point for so many of those seemingly glamorous lives.

But the appetite for this kind of communication is shifting and is being replaced by an insatiable appetite for something we’ve been starved of for so long.

Those showing up as the real version of themselves, warts and all, are earning more and more attention. 

Brands shouldn’t sleep on this trend because it applies to them too.

People are tired of the fake façade and are thirsty for truth. 

Brand that adopts a philosophy of “getting real”, will earn followers, customers and trust in the process.

#2. Tell Stories

We’re all drawn to stories because the connection is in our DNA going back to ancient civilizations. 

A story that illuminates the reality of the journey, showing the heartbreaking defeats and the inspiring triumphs can be captivating.

When brand personality attributes and values are weaved throughout, it paints a picture of the brand behind the story. 

Nike’s equality campaign “Until We All Win” backs up its values by inviting customers to get involved and take part in its drive for positive social change. 

Its inspirational ad campaigns celebrate the story of inclusion featuring everyday people from various backgrounds alongside professional athletes.

The Equality campaign is a classic example of brand values determining the nature of the marketing campaign.

The audience can track this connection.

#3. Be Consistent

Brand consistency is a vital component of brand authenticity.

Show up with a singular brand voice across all touchpoints, whether it be social media marketing, customer service, or an in-store experience. 

This consistency allows trust to build over time as customers recognize the same brand experience through every channel.

Confusion from mixed messages damages that trust as consumers easily spot conflicting elements. 

Create comprehensive brand guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page and can present the same version of the brand. 

Brand guidelines include verbal elements with tone of voice guidelines and visual elements with brand identity guidelines.

#4. Show Empathy

An authentic brand is empathetic.

Take the time to show the brand truly understands the customers’ pain points and challenges.

The more you can connect through the detail of the challenges and pain-points, the more genuinely understood consumers feel.

This both displays intimate knowledge and provides a strong foundation for emotional connections.

#5. Back Up Claims

As mentioned earlier, brands must talk the talk.

Modern consumers, especially younger generations, expect sincerity from their brands and expect them to take action.

Therefore, if you make sustainability one of the brand’s core values, you must follow up and show sustainable practices in the way you do business. 

Be an advocate for sustainability across the board to show you are a driver for positive change in your industry, not just within your business.

Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk with high standards of suppliers to distribute right down to recycling.

Brand authenticity means standing up for what you believe in. 

You better believe that social media will have a field day if consumers spot any hypocrisy in your brand behavior. 

Any form of hypocrisy or inauthenticity will destroy any trust earned and have your brand tagged as inauthentic.

A tag that can be hard to shake as Volkswagen learned the hard way after their diesel emissions scandal

#6. Own Up When Things Go Wrong

Part of brand authenticity relates to humanizing brands.

Consumers want human qualities in the brands they interact with because they want a personal connection.

Consumers don’t want to feel like they’re interacting with a faceless, impersonal, corporation.

Part of being human involves owning up to mistakes and acknowledging you can do better. It’s no different for brands.

If there are any problems with your product or services, don’t cover them up or make excuses.

Get ahead of the problem, apologize, and state what you’re doing to remedy the situation.

Being upfront and honest can help avoid damage to your brand reputation and reinforces your authenticity because consumers appreciate transparency.

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Examples Of Brand Authenticity

These brands are experts at presenting customers with an authentic brand story.

#1. Dove

brand personality example dove

Dove as a brand, sell personal care and beauty products.

However, their marketing efforts and storytelling don’t focus on beauty.

Instead, their message is self-esteem holds the power for inner and outer beauty.

They run the Dove ‘self-esteem project that raises awareness of the more harmful elements of the beauty industry. 

The project aims to celebrate real beauty.

This is an example of a brand being consciously authentic. 

They tap into genuine audience concerns about self-image and offer a consistent message of body positivity to support consumers, using real customers in their campaigns.

Their commitment is clear

“Dove is committed to helping all women realize their personal beauty potential by creating products that deliver real care.”

It’s clear that Dove lives out its values here. The emphasis is on providing ‘real care’, implying that the products that provide care for skin or scalp conditions are only part of Dove’s holistic service. 

#2. Patagonia

Patagonia states its mission in simple terms:

“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Everything that the business does is internally measured across the metrics included in the brand values. They serve as foundational principles for authentic branding. 

Because their values are so clearly embedded in their business activity, they have built a reputation for authenticity that consumers buy into.

Perhaps the best example is their “Don’t buy this jacket” campaign. 

The campaign aimed to shine a light on the problems of fast fashion industry on the environment with a message of sustainability.  

Patagonia’s outspoken support on sustainability issues reinforces the brands status a genuine sustainable brand walking the walk.

#3. Buffer

Buffer is a popular social media management solution.

They have built a reputation for authenticity based on living by the principle of transparency.

Buffer’s second brand value is “Default to Transparency.”

Their reasoning is that transparency leads to a culture of trust, both internally and externally with the audience.

They understand that modern consumers really appreciate brands that are honest and never shy away from the truth.

Buffer has a whole page on its website dedicated to transparency where it shares financial reports, employee salaries, open-source code, internal metrics, and other information often kept private. 

By being straightforward, vocal about their principles, and consistent in upholding them.

Buffer has built brand authenticity that is inspiring others in the tech sector to be more transparent.

Over To You

Modern consumers are bombarded with branded content. With the oversaturation of the marketplace, consumers have finely tuned senses to understand when brands are disingenuous or hypocritical.

They’re intolerant of inauthentic brands.

They’ll choose an alternative if they perceive a brand to be inauthentic.

This dynamic is why it’s critical for modern brands to build their brand authenticity. 

In such a competitive marketplace, consumers are spoiled for choice and they’ll only interact with brands they trust.

Maintaining authenticity over time is critical to developing that relationship with the consumer. 

To build that reputation for authenticity, brands need to:

Clearly state values and live by them

Be consistent in their messaging

Convey brand values through brand storytelling

Empathize with the audience

Apologize if necessary

In reality, brand authenticity, shouldn’t even be a term. It should be the default for all brands.

But just like people, some brands like to hide behind a façade more than others, but sooner rather than later, those brands will be left behind, for brands showing up with warts and all.

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