Consumers today are aware of the brands they buy from. They may not know what goes on behind the scenes, but they’re “all eyes” on what brands are doing and saying online.
How a company behaves in public and their views of the world can have a huge impact on the sales they make. But it’s not enough to just say what you believe in. Brands must be consistent in their messaging, actions, and beliefs.
Anything but will cause consumers to question the brand’s authenticity.
Table of contents:
What is brand authenticity?
Brand authenticity is the genuine representation of a brand. This includes its values, purpose, identity, and beliefs. An authentic brand has a clear purpose, consistent message, and actions that align with its values.
Why brand authenticity is important
Today’s consumers demand authenticity, with 88% saying it’s important (and 50% saying it’s very important) when deciding which brands to like and support.
If a brand isn’t proactively positioning itself to build authenticity, it risks becoming another generic company no buyer sticks to.
When consumers find authentic brands that align with their own beliefs and values, they are more likely to purchase from them not just once — but repeatedly. These loyal customers eventually become brand ambassadors, driving more business and sales.
One way to present your brand and its identity is by using social media. According to a Stackla report, conversations and engagement with brands increased on X (formerly Twitter) over the past year, with:
- 20% more retweets
- 23% increase in Tweets
- 35% increase in Quote Tweets
- 44% more replies
The rise in social media engagement shows that brands should use these platforms for conversations, not just sales.
How to build brand authenticity
There are many ways a company can build brand authenticity. Here are some of the top methods businesses can try today.
Create an online platform for customers
Being on social media is a good start. But you want to move your audience to owned channels where they can engage with your brand.
An owned channel gives you control over when and how to communicate with customers. No algorithms to worry about, which means ultimate visibility for branded messages.
Several options for building an online platform include:
- Slack channels
- Discord channels
- Email newsletters
- Patreon community forums
- Social media groups
Host interactive workshops with customers
Say you have a pool business selling pool accessories and tools. Your mission is to build awareness around preventable kids’ drownings. So, you decide to host an online workshop to show customers how to keep their pools safe for children.
This may include your products or those from other brands. The goal isn’t to generate revenue but to genuinely help customers keep their children safe in the pool.
You can do the same for any purpose you have as a brand.
Share stories from real people
If your mission is to help customers lose weight, build a business, or increase their productivity, then do it and share the results with your audience.
Consumers love success stories, especially when they’re engaging, heartfelt, and relatable. These serve two purposes: 1) provide social proof that your product or service works, and 2) allow customers to connect with your brand through storytelling.
Consider creating a podcast or video series where you interview past and current customers and share the results. To make it interesting, plan ahead to capture raw footage of the trials and errors, and successes so people can feel inspired and motivated by the journey.
Join conversations every day (or close to it)
The more engaged you are with your audience and community, the better it is for your brand. It’s common for companies to create social media accounts and groups and never post or respond to anything.
Do the opposite — find things to publish daily, even if it means scheduling content weeks in advance.
You can use tools like Sprout Social to schedule posts and listen to brand mentions and conversations in your niche you can join.
For instance, Wendy’s, the fast-food restaurant chain, knows how to make a splash on social media. It’s not your average brand on X — they’re witty, engaging, and always ready to jump into conversations.
Wendy’s social media team doesn’t just sit back and watch — they actively listen and participate in trending topics, reply to customer tweets, and even engage in friendly banter with other brands and users.
Its clever comebacks and humorous interactions have made it famous online and shaped its unique brand voice. By joining conversations on X and other channels, Wendy’s has built a strong online community and made a lasting impression on its audience.
Partner with authentic influencers
Selecting an influencer to partner with should be based on how well they align with your brand and views. Teaming up with the wrong person could hurt your brand image and send the wrong message to your audience.
To avoid this, be selective by thoroughly checking an influencer’s social media pages and the content they publish. Is it consistently in line with your brand’s values?
Are there any questionable posts that might damage your brand, such as crude jokes or controversial opinions? If so, play it safe and find another influencer.
Once you find an influencer, find ways to collaborate, such as by hosting a webinar, giveaway, or live event with them. Whatever you decide should bring value to your audience and align with your brand’s mission.
Don’t be afraid to get political
For decades, companies stayed out of politics, save for the occasional few. Today, brands are taking bigger and louder stances for and against political matters, such as gun violence, gender equality, and climate change.
Based on several surveys, consumers love it when brands speak up for what they believe in. Sure, it may turn some off who have opposing views, but you’ll find a tribe of customers who will appreciate your efforts and support your cause by purchasing from your brand.
A great example of a brand getting political is Patagonia. It’s known for its strong political activism and commitment to environmental causes.
For instance, Patagonia has taken a stand on important issues like climate change and voting rights. In fact, it co-founded a campaign called Time to Vote, which focused on increasing voter turnout.
It even went as far as endorsing political candidates during the 2018 midterms and taking legal action against (AKA suing) the Trump administration. Its activism has struck a chord with its customers but has solidified its reputation as a brand unafraid to get involved in politics.
Collaborate with other brands with the same cause
Yes, brands should come together to promote important causes. Even if it means “holding hands” with a rival brand. That's exactly what Adidas and Allbirds did for the sake of sustainability.
Here’s the story:
Adidas and Allbirds, two prominent players in the footwear industry, joined forces to address a crucial social and environmental cause.
Allbirds, known for its eco-friendly approach and use of natural materials, partnered with Adidas, a global sportswear and sneaker giant, to create a groundbreaking low-carbon sneaker called FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT. This collaboration aimed to demonstrate that sustainable sportswear can be produced on a large scale.
Following an initial limited release in late 2021, the sneakers gained significant popularity and were made more widely available in the spring of 2022. This collaboration not only showcased a shared commitment to reducing carbon emissions in the footwear industry but also highlighted the potential for technical innovation when competitors unite.
This partnership is a powerful reminder that even competitors can find common ground and work toward a shared goal. When consumers see your brand is willing to set aside differences to work with a competitor to tackle major issues, it screams authenticity and trustworthiness.
Highlight local artisans’ and craftsmen’s stories
Storytelling makes it to the list again. This time, it’s about showcasing the hard work of local artisans and craftsmen. These individuals are often forgotten in favor of big brands and are worth the spotlight.
For instance, if you sell a line of women’s purses, you can tell the story of a local designer who handmakes bags using sustainable materials. To take it further, you can partner with the artisan to design a limited editing bag for customers to purchase.
This approach shows your brand cares about the small businesses in your community and are willing to give them a voice and a leg up.
You can do the same by scouring social media channels like X, Instagram, and TikTok to find gifted artisans in your industry. Once you do, reach out to see how you can collaborate. For instance, you can interview them on your podcast or YouTube channel, host a workshop about how they create their work, or feature their products in your online store.
However you decide to build your brand’s authenticity, keep it true to your heart, so it’s easier to stand by. Do this, and your ingenuity will shine through, winning over customers and building a strong and lasting brand reputation.