Time for brands to tell the truth

Brand authenticity

Time for brands to tell the truth

There is a lot of talk about authentic brands but what exactly does this mean? 

Brand authenticity means that the brand is perceived to be reliable, respectful and real. Warts and all. Today, people are looking for open and honest communications. People become emotionally invested in the success of authentic brands. This translates into increased brand loyalty and less price sensitivity which can translate into increased profitability. 

Why is this so important? 
Millennials are probably the most powerful and influential cohort right now. Their influence extends to the Baby Boomer cohort, the older generation. If brand strategists are not considering how to connect with the Millennial cohort right now, they might be missing the boat entirely because studies have shown that less than 1% of Millennials connect with traditional advertising.

Why CEO’s should drive brands. 
So many brands sprout promises and empty messages which are not believable. So many companies have values that sound great but are seldom evident to consumers. Get input from staff. Put a poster on the canteen wall. Put the values on the website. Get agency to come up with a strapline. Job done. Sound familiar? CEO’s need to be passionate about their brand and company values. You don’t want to lead a lie.

What you should and shouldn’t be doing.

  • Understand your market and what it is that really matters to your dominant cohort. They’re looking for more than just your product from you. Chances are that your product is very similar to that of your competitor so why would prospects choose you? Let that sink in your head as a starter. If you miss this, you’ll be “investing” precious marketing spend on saying “I’m also in the market”. Nuts!
  • Think really hard about your company values but focus outside-in. Turn your company values into promises to your audience. Having integrity and being trustworthy are tickets to the game – they’re qualifiers. How do your company values connect to your audience? Why is it meaningful?
  • Be real. You brand is who you are and what you mean. Anything else stated is just a lie and soon found out. Why would you spend thousands or millions of marketing budget telling lies? That’s government’s job!
  • Get a decent brand strategy, design and communications company to help you create a real, authentic brand. Right now, chances are that nobody is really connecting with your brand and taking any notice of what you are saying. Or, they heard you (once) but didn’t believe you.

In truth, the need for brands to be real and authentic has always been around. The iconic brands understood this and that is what made them great. Connecting at a real and deep level. I’m not sure that we would call them pioneers. Rather, people who really understood brands and brand strategy. And they worked damn hard to make it happen and leave a lasting legacy.


Gary Hendrickse
CEO Sherpa
Brand Strategy, Design & Communications
+27 83 6777 342

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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