Your brand is multidimensional. You share and your customers take in: its vibe and voice, logo and look, your mission and core values. When we talk about building an authentic brand, we’re going deeper into developing the relationship between you/your business and your audience. Read on to learn all the details of what, why, and how!
What is brand authenticity?
The concept is straightforward: it’s being honest, transparent, and trustworthy with your brand.
Delivering on brand authenticity is a bit more complex, but easily achievable when you know the components and act accordingly.
But first, let’s get to the reasoning behind brand authenticity …
Why you need brand authenticity.
Building an authentic brand is the backbone for building trust and developing a long-term relationship with your customers. When your customers get to know what your business stands for — your mission and your values — they feel connected to your business. This connection builds to loyalty over time.
When prospects first interact with your business, it may be your brand authenticity that engages them. Millennials, especially, will choose a business based on its mission and values; this is becoming more common for other generations as well. Not everyone is going to agree with your mission and values and that’s ok. What’s important is that your brand has a solid core. Your mission and values must be recognizable AND speak to your target audience. This leads us to the HOW of building an authentic brand …
How to build an authentic brand.
Know your why.
I say this all the time because it’s the cornerstone of the work I do with clients … no matter if they’re just starting out or well-established. No matter if they’re a microbusiness or a mid-size business. You MUST be clear about your why from the get go as it’s essential to building your brand and creating your messaging. Everything that goes on your website, your social channels, direct mail, etc., reveals your brand and it must do so CONSISTENTLY. Why are you in business? What are you passionate about? How do you really want to help your customers?
(It’s common and natural for your why to evolve over time and that’s when you refresh or re-brand to ensure that you’re reaching the right audience. Read this post for ideas on how to identify/refine your WHY.)
Create value for your audience.
Customers choose businesses & brands that deliver value. It’s not just about the product/service anymore. People engage more and more with businesses. They yearn for connection. That’s why storytelling has become so important in marketing. And the brand voice for many businesses is casual so that customers and prospects can relate to the brand. You create value by sharing tips, info, and stories on all the platforms that your target audience uses.
Be honest and innovative.
Your customers want to know they can keep counting on you to provide solutions for them. As you grow your business, you want your customers invested in that growth. That means being transparent, and a little vulnerable, with the hiccups that you’ll eventually experience. This doesn’t mean you call out all your mistakes, but if something affects a customer poorly, you recognize it and improve the situation. This builds trust. And you keep working to provide new solutions based on their needs and your industry.
Understand your audience.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are their needs and challenges? Ask for their feedback and/or conduct surveys to find out. Be empathetic to their challenges. Your brand should represent the core of your business and speak to your target audience through visual and written messaging. (If you haven’t created your ideal customer/client profile, use my free guide to do so!)
Align with a cause to build awareness.
If/when it feels right, you can use your brand to express your business’ values and build public awareness. I just did this in my monthly e-newsletter following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, saying, “I know the topic swirls with a lot of passionate emotions on both sides, but the fact is, Message Artist Creative Group is a business that believes deeply and strongly in inclusivity, diversity, freedom, and equality. Period.” I am passionate about women’s rights so I felt as a woman-owned company, it was appropriate and timely for me to publically share my feelings about the court’s decision and reiterate my company’s brand values that guide the business.
Reassess Your Brand Regularly
If you research business branding, you’ll see advice to live your brand. This is how your brand is authentic … when everything you, your team, and employees do and say reflects your brand. But our lives change. We change as business owners. Our customers change. Industry changes. And design and technology definitely change. Consider Dunkin Donuts. They needed to reach an audience beyond just people eating donuts. And they needed to reach younger generations while still keeping older generations. So they re-branded and changed their name/look to Dunkin’. This re-brand better represented BOTH the company and its audience.
Small and mid-size businesses need to ask the same questions as big businesses about branding.
Ask for feedback from others, even trusted customers, to see if your brand is on target or not.
- TIP: Check out this post about how to get feedback on your brand messaging.
Be sure YOUR brand still reaches your target by reviewing this checklist:
- Visual Identity: Logo, design/color palette
- Tagline (if you have one)
- Lead Generators (One of my “freebies” is a guide to help you create your Ideal Customer Profile in 6 Easy Steps. This profile is VITAL to your brand!)
- Print materials
- Social media platforms
- Membership profiles
How Can We Help You?
Not sure exactly how much work your brand needs? Still working on your messaging and your target audience? Our team at Message Artist Creative Group can assess your current brand messaging and help refine it so it attracts your ideal audience, as well as help with refreshing your brand or create new logo designs and visual identity.
Schedule a call today to chat all things brand-related!