It’s often said that authenticity is one of the keys to a successful brand and is essential to retaining customers or clients. Yet, efforts to appear authentic may have the opposite effect if those efforts don’t feel genuine to followers. What is your best tip for ensuring a truly authentic brand identity that customers believe and connect with?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Build Trust
We communicate authenticity through our brand by having a consistent presence across all of our digital channels. A key component of being authentic is building trust with your constituents, which includes your team, clients, partners and social media followers. All of our messaging (digital and offline) is aligned with our company vision and our core values. For example, one of these values is to be altruistic. We regularly share our team’s volunteer activities across social media illustrating our commitment to our social impact programs. – Michael Kurland, Branded Group Inc
2. Talk with Your Customers
However you slice and dice it, your brand is literally the relationship your company has with customers. You cannot have an authentic brand without a deep understanding of their needs and expectations. That’s why it’s really the founder’s job to ensure the company implements an ongoing dialogue with users. Use the feedback to craft and position that critical relationship to resonate with the lifeblood of your business. – Matt Bendett, Peerspace
3. Support Real Values
Lead by example and make your decisions as transparent as you can. Beyond that, consistent communication is key to authenticity. One strategy is to establish a mission statement based on company values and company-wide participation. From there, stick to the mission statement and promote it extensively. If a mission statement guides your decisions, then you can avoid looking like everything you do is self-serving. Management should also support and push values that have nothing to do with profits, such as employee health, both physical and mental, or family-oriented promotions. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs
4. Record Podcats
I believe that the best way to create a strong relationship between your organization and your customers is through a long-form audio podcast. While it may be tricky to justify why your specific business needs a podcast dedicated to it, figuring out that hurdle will provide your customers with a source of content that can’t help but feel genuine. – Bryce Welker, Crush The LSAT
5. Show Your Personality
To appear authentic, it is important that brands look at their stories as more than just marketing material. It’s a story that is inspired by people behind the scenes who help drive success that resonates with the audience, mainly because it is personality-driven. Since trust is an intrinsic part of how people function, personality-driven content helps build that. – Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns
6. Go Behind the Scenes
Inviting your brand’s followers behind the scenes to share an insider’s perspective of your team and your processes can be a highly effective way of creating an authentic connection between your customers and your brand. If you have a strong brand identity and company culture, utilize it to the fullest. It can be a tremendous source of highly authentic and engaging content. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International
7. Engage in Conversation
I find connecting directly to my consumers is the No. 1 way to create authenticity. I often do this via social media, and I think the fact that I take the time to personally engage, ask their opinions, share and participate in two-way conversations shows a sincerity and also allows them to relate to the person behind the story. – Dalia MacPhee, DALIA MACPHEE
8. Utilize Video
Video is one of the best ways to display authenticity and build real connections. There’s a lot of low-class marketing and attempts to be “authentic,” so it’s little wonder we’ve all become skeptical about “genuine” emails and “personal” stories. It’s much harder to be fake authenticity on video. – Karl Kangur, MRR Media
9. Be Consistent
A truly authentic brand identity relies on one thing: consistency. Without consistency, all of your efforts will be wasted. Whatever brand identity you’re trying to communicate to your audience, you need to ensure that messaging is consistent across all mediums and platforms. Without consistency, your audience may find your brand identity hard to believe or relate to. – Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group
10. Give Them a Call
With auto-responders, drip campaigns, email and instant messaging on websites, people have become more disconnected from the people that power the products and services they use on a regular basis. Pick up the phone and call your customers. It builds a sense of trust, and it’s an incredible way to get feedback if you need to improve in an area. – Michael Fellows, Broadway Lab, Inc.
11. Avoid Being Un-edited
If you’re in the beauty industry, it stands to reason that you might want to give your followers a live insight into your skin regimen via Instagram Stories, but that same unfiltered, un-edited approach does not work for everyone. An authentic image is easily identifiable. Some brands choose a color theme, others choose presentation, others use a platform; the key is consistency. – Cody McLain, SupportNinja