If you haven’t seen Nike in the news lately, it’s time to catch up. Regardless of your stance on the controversial spokesperson of the brand’s 30th ‘Just Do It campaign,’ it’s a powerful reminder of the importance of brand authenticity.
At its core, brand authenticity requires the courage to consistently represent your beliefs, and, at times, openly deal with public backlash. While coming under fire can be difficult, it can pay off big in terms of building trust with your target audience.
Forty-two percent of consumers don’t trust brands, and it all comes down to one thing: authenticity. Authenticity is more than a marketing buzzword. It is where you start to establish trust with your consumers.
Defining what authenticity looks like for your brand begins by answering a few critical questions: How would you like your target audience to describe you? What values do you share? What do your customers need? How will your brand react when those needs are unmet? What emotions do you want a customer to feel when engaging with your brand?
Tapping into your consumers’ emotions is where you differentiate your brand and build trust. Your messaging should go beyond benefits and features of your products and services. Speak to how your product personally impacts consumers in terms of how it makes them feel or experience life.
Like any relationship, listening is key. This goes beyond customer reviews. You want to hear the stories customers have to tell about your brand. Consider setting up focus groups or investing in social listening tools like Mention. Social listening tools gather everything people say about your brand online and provide valuable insights on consumer sentiments.
As you “listen” online, you will likely find you have advocates generating their own content about your brand. Leverage this content by sharing it. Even consumers who don’t trust advertising will trust their peers. Social Media Today reports consumers say user-generated content is three times more authentic than brand-created content. Adding human connection to your brand by sharing customer content will go far in building an authentic experience.
Finally, be courageous. It can be a risky move, but studies show consumers increasingly want companies to take a stand. Whether it is a social cause or a brand core value, own your stance and stay true to it. If consumers see you wavering on a belief, you will lose their trust. Be prepared to handle negative feedback. Online, in person or over the phone, be willing and prepared to have open conversations to address customer concerns.
According to the Consumer Content Report, 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they support. Define authenticity for your brand and echo it across every channel to positively impact your business’s bottom line.
Ashley Sullivan, Lead Generation Specialist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.