Today’s consumer cares deeply about brand authenticity. Consumers believe every brand has a unique story to tell. Therefore, authenticity is attainable by every brand. The greater challenge is living the brand—that is, staying on brand even when it is not convenient. If your brand is built on transparency, don’t hide the sourcing or refuse to answer questions about quality.
If your brand guarantees customer satisfaction, don’t challenge or deny consumers returns. If your brand is a friendly choice, don’t hire clerks who lack social skills. To leverage your brand’s authenticity, start with these three rules:
In order to tailor your brand to your consumers, you must first get to know them. What is most important to your consumers? Whatever is important to your consumers is where your focus as a brand should be. For example, if your consumer base is working professionals and your brand mission is to be a fast food option without compromising on quality then the priority is to provide your consumer with speedy service and high-quality food. It would be unwise to suddenly introduce an intricately prepared product even if it is delicious because it would not be aligned with your brand promise or with the consumer’s priorities.
True authenticity means quickly owning up to mistakes and transparently making things right. In brand reputation management, the number 1 rule is to be open and honest even when making a mistake. Take the Tylenol scare in 1982 where a non-brand related person tainted random Tylenol bottles with cyanide causing the death of seven people. Tylenol was not directly responsible for the deaths. However, Tylenol spoke to the public with the truth and explored its own areas of opportunity to prevent anything like this from happening again. Tylenol bottles now contain several safety features such as a thin metallic film and a sealed cap which will both reveal signs of tampering. As a result of the transparency and the acknowledgment of its areas of opportunity, Tylenol continues to be one of the largest analgesic brands over 35 years after an incident which could have easily killed the brand.
Honesty and openness are critical for brand authenticity. Enable your brand to live its values. If one of its core values is customer service, make sure your brand lives up to this even if it is not always in the best interest of the bottom line. Living up to the core values at all times will ensure that overall the result is positive. Take the example of Nordstrom, this brand is recognized for its overly friendly customer service policies in particular when it comes to returns. Accepting a return that cannot be resold for the full value may not be in the best interest of the bottom line but it is in the interest of living up to the brand’s core values and not doing so will cause more damage in the long run.