What makes an authentic brand?

Every consumer will have their own tastes, preferences and priorities, which ultimately plays a big part in how brands are perceived.

This is particularly true when it comes to what people consider to be “authentic” brands, as these views will be determined by lots of factors, from their familiarity with a company to the type of person who wants the goods and services it provides.

The issue has been highlighted in a new study by agency Firefish, which found some notable differences across various demographics.

For instance, technology brands are regarded as the most authentic by 18 to 24-year-olds, while older people do not see them in this way.

There also appears to be a gender divide, as women are much more likely than men to regard fashion brands like Topshop and Burberry as being authentic.

Interestingly, males and females do have comparable views of some organisations, in particular car brands including Ferrari, Ford and Land Rover.

So given the apparent lack of consistency regarding what people consider to be an authentic brand, is it possible to come up with a set of rules that any firm can use to hopefully be perceived in this way?

Firefish has come up with eight recommendations that brands might want to take on board.

Be honest
Brands need to be true to themselves, genuine and make sure any stories they tell are grounded in truth.

Show integrity
Any narrative must reflect a company’s real-life situation so it can be believed and carry weight among its target audience.

Be consistent
Brands can show they mean what they say and have a genuine set of values by setting out their stall and sticking to it.

Be original
Don’t run the risk of embracing stereotypes, as this might be off-putting to some and make a company look out of step with the real world.

Don’t stand still
If the operating environment is evolving, companies must change accordingly, which means they have to be prepared to step outside their established brand narrative when it becomes necessary.

Be unique
Many firms have their own quirks and foibles, so they might benefit from embracing them rather than weeding them out, as it helps them stand out in the marketplace.

Set the tone
Copying other brands won’t help firms be distinctive, so they must be prepared to be creative and lead the way when it comes to marketing to their target audience.

Don’t become complacent
While long-established firms are right to be proud of a distinguished heritage, they won’t stay ahead of the pack by resting on their laurels. They must keep moving forward while maintaining the traditions that got them where they are in the first place.

Francesca Alberry, research director at Firefish, acknowledged that some might view the need for a firm to be true to itself yet be willing to change as something of a contradiction. However, she stressed that the two can be reconciled.

“We are not saying don’t evolve or change,” she commented.

“There’s room within authenticity to be flexible but you need to take the audience with you and make sure that if a brand is innovating, it is doing so in a way that is true to itself.”

How to be an authentic brand, Marketing Week

Posted by Robin McCrink