Brand Authenticity: An Overview For Small Businesses

Brand authenticity, transparency and customer trust work hand in hand to build a future-proof brand.

What’s the big deal about brand authenticity?

Let’s start with the cold, hard truth.

Products come and go; everything has a life cycle. They can also be replaced with any number of similar alternatives on the market. As for services? They’re easy to copy.

How then does a brand stand the test of time—and come out on top?

In this day and age, the “fake it until you make it” approach just isn’t possible anymore.

Frankly, consumers are tired of insincere brands only after their money; they’ve no patience for confusing messages; they’re not interested in being sold to around every corner.

In fact, the more time consumers spend hanging out and shopping online, the more value is placed on all things genuine. They seek out brands that share their values—and that live up to their expectations.

In short, brands succeed by staying true to who they are; by earning trust; and forming an emotional connection with customers.

What is brand authenticity?

Being authentic simply means choosing to be real.

In other words, what makes a brand authentic is its honesty, transparency, sticking to core values and treating customers with proper regard.

Why being authentic improves sales (and grows businesses)

While being open and up front, including about your shortcomings, can be scary and even seem like it would be detrimental to sales, the reality is that authenticity builds better brands—authenticity gets rewarded.

To be precise, here’s the importance of brand authenticity:

Authentic brands stand out—and get heard.

Consumers are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of brand messages every single day. From search results to sponsored content, popups and everything in between—marketing messages are literally everywhere.

So what’s the best way to get someone’s attention in such an environment? Hint: It’s definitely NOT by copying others.

The correct answer is by embracing your brand’s unique identity. Because, guess what? You stand out when you don’t look and sound like everyone else.

Takeaway: Authenticity is an attractive quality that makes consumers tune in and pay attention.

Transparent brands earn a good reputation.

Dishonest, deceitful and manipulative brands make us angry. And that’s putting it kindly! But a transparent brand that’s open, honest, and up front (even in light of their imperfections) earns consumer trust—and respect.

In short, how a brand is perceived has a direct impact on its ability to do business. This relates to such things like the opportunities they are given, the cost of marketing, and the ability to grow a loyal customer base. Without a good reputation, a brand won’t last long.

Takeaway: Consumers support (financially or otherwise) truthful brands, that is businesses with good character.

Honest brands attract more customers and sell more.

Confronted with tons of marketing messages daily, consumers have become pros at filtering those that don’t feel, look or sound credible. They’ve learned to see through the marketing spin and they can discern when a brand is merely paying lip service—those brands are ignored and their sales suffer. After all, people don’t buy from brands they don’t trust.

Takeaway: No one willingly engages with a business that lies; one that doesn’t respect its customers.

Genuine brands connect with people on an emotional level and that’s how they build loyalty.

As we’ve just said, consumers care what kind of business they’re dealing with. They support brands with a purpose and messages that resonate with them. That’s why authentic brands have a categorical advantage—they are clear about who they are, what they do as well as what their values are and that makes it easier to engage with people and win hearts.

Takeaway: Building a brand that stands the test of time starts with cultivating strong bonds – a close relationship – with consumers.

Being real requires less effort.

Maintaining a certain facade does more harm than good because it’s easy to mess up along the way. There’s lots you have to keep track of. Not to mention keeping up appearances is tiring. But when you stay true to who you are, it all comes naturally. That’s one less thing to worry about!

Takeaway: As in real life, it’s less stressful being yourself than it is trying to be what you’re not.

Authenticity in branding: small business copywriting tips

It’s a lot easier to show authenticity in person – but how do you make sure brand authenticity comes across in your writing? Honestly, that’s the hard part!

Here are some tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Know thyself

Authentic brands are crystal clear about who they are, what they do and their values. Bonus points if they’re a purpose-driven brand!

Purpose is the ‘why’ behind everything you do. And when it comes to authenticity, why you do what you do matters a great deal. Your ‘why’ is the aspect people relate to—that’s the story worth telling.

For example:

Yasuo Yamamoto is a fifth-generation soy sauce brewer who has made it his mission to share with the world what real soy sauce actually tastes like and, along the way, preserve the ingredient (and kioke wooden barrels) used to make it.

Everything starts with 'why': Yamaroku shares their family business' evolving story with a focus on the question 'why'

His Yamaroku brand is a great example of a business that really highlights their ‘why’. It reflects their core values, which influences everything: the craftsmanship that goes into creating the next generation of wooden barrels, the brewing process, the end products, and even their marketing copy. Their ‘why’ is the basis of their (still evolving) story.

To write with authenticity, you need to get to the root of why your brand / business exists—that’s the basis of everything that follows.

Tip #2: Find your brand voice

When it comes to your writing, rather than copying or attempting to mimic those who have achieved success before you, focus on establishing your own unique brand voice.

For example:

Are you a youthful brand that treats its audience like friends? Or are you a serious brand focused on showing your professionalism? Will you be soft-spoken or energetic? Want to come across as warm and approachable or aloof and clinical?

Tip #3: Be consistent

An authentic brand is consistent across all channels, whether that’s online or offline. That’s not a problem when you’re simply staying true to who you are. And fun fact: being consistent can increase revenues by as much as 33%!

On the flip side, mixed messages or a style that changes from platform to platform confuses your audience. It’s like having multiple personalities, which makes it hard for consumers to easily identify you.

Another thing: no one likes a fickle brand. If you’re constantly changing your voice and messaging, people WILL lose trust in you.

Tip #4: Show emotion

Genuine brands don’t shy away from showing emotion. After all, emotion is powerful—it connects us and can even nudge us in a particular direction. So write with empathy, excitement, fear, or even regret when appropriate or when the situation calls for it.

Tip #5: Put your customers first

Being customer-oriented isn’t limited to the products you make and the delivery of your service. It’s also necessary in writing. Write in a way that appeals to them and present your copy in an attractive manner. Your marketing copy shouldn’t be hard on the eyes or require too much brain power.

Tip #6: Own up to your mistakes

It’s normal to always want to put your best foot forward. But let’s be honest: we know that there’s no such thing as perfect. We make mistakes and we learn as we go along-—brands included.

Owning up to that and even sharing what’s behind the scenes is what makes you relatable. So rather than pretending to be perfect and right all the time, embrace those shortcomings and infuse your writing with that.

For example:

Keep it real: That's what Zotter does in telling their story.

While others might choose to sugarcoat their humble beginnings, chocolate manufacturer Zotter is not embarrassed to say they went bankrupt or that they opened their factory on their parents’ farm “as it was the cheapest location for a new start.”

Because that’s the truth.

And anyone interested in their story will appreciate the fact that there are no pretenses here. Zotter knows how to keep things real and that leaves you with both a good impression and a good taste in the mouth! (Figuratively and literally, because Zotter chocolates are awesome.)