By Anna Condon, Junior Copywriter
Before the advent of the digital age, brands controlled all levels of communication from print and television advertisements to radio testimonials. Now, with mobile technology at our fingertips, brands no longer control the communication flow. Instead, everyday consumers, empowered by technology and social media, can voice their opinions, share their experiences, and co-create your brand story.
Now that customers can factor trustworthiness and sincerity into every purchase decision, authenticity has become the next big challenge for companies of all sizes. How do you cultivate an authentic brand?
1. Define your brand. Authentic brands are built on strong messages that tell a great story and communicate three key things:
- Who you are – History and heritage are crucial elements of an authentic brand story. Explain how the business got started and the passionate people driving your growth. You and your employees are part of your brand, so don’t be afraid to show a little personality.
- Why you do what you do – Let customers in on your vision for the business and how it fits in with their lives. How are you making lives better with what you do?
- What customers can expect from you – Clearly communicate your core values and find a way to create a community. Whether your community is local or virtual, you need to understand what your customers want and explain how your core values will help you deliver.
2. Tell a story. Image that every customer who encounters your brand – whether it’s in store, via your website, or some other avenue – is thinking “Why should I buy from you?” They’re looking for something that sets your brand apart. If you can answer them with a compelling story, then you’re one step closer to gaining their trust.
Stories help create an emotional connection between your brand and your customers. When you tell a compelling story, this helps people see how your brand can slide effortlessly into their daily lives and shows them how your values and goals mirror their own.
3. Build your reputation. No, I’m not just talking about Yelp reviews. Your brand is one of your greatest assets, so it’s important to do everything you can to build it up into something people know and admire. Reputations are built on stories – not just the ones you tell, but the ones your customers, fans, and critics share.
If you want to control that reputation, it’s important to think of the total experience people have with your brand. Your brand isn’t just a logo, a tagline, or any one campaign, but a collection of experience that color customers’ opinions of your brand. Authenticity is staying true to your brand story in every communication, every decision, and every action.
4. Engage with your customers. People prefer to buy from brands they feel a connection with – and communication is key. If you’re going to have a successful relationship with your customers they need to see that you are willing to engage with them.
Authentic companies listen to their customers, which is the first step to understanding their wants and needs on a deeper level. It helps to better understand why people are loyal to your product or company. Plus, listening to your customers makes it easier to find out what they care about and what they want from your business, so you can continue to deliver for years to come.