Today’s marketplace is flooded with news of companies trying to stay afloat and sustain market share. Then there are the billion-dollar companies like General Motors, Chrysler, CitiBank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and AIG being rescued by government bailout plans using precious taxpayer dollars.
As a result, customers are now more hesitant than ever to put their faith in brands. It begs the question: how can customers trust brands when the relationship is one-sided? The answer is: they can’t . . . and they aren’t. As such, authentic brands have emerged as the envy of corporate leaders worldwide.
Authentic brands are viewed by customers as those that don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. If their claim is being environmentally friendly or if they are supporters of a healthy lifestyle for example, they don’t just talk about being “green”; they actually live it, breathe it and truly believe in it. Think about Apple and its commitment to innovation or Whole Foods for its dedication to organic food alternatives and how it offers customers advice on how to live healthier. Both of these companies have corporate mission statements that reflect their commitment to the brand’s mantra and they take every opportunity to support the focus in all aspects of their business from the way they support their employees to what they offer their customers.
For business leaders everywhere, authentic branding gives your company, products and services a face and a voice in a crowded marketplace. Authentic brands have integrity and clear intentions, and both current and potential customers respect them for it. They attract repeat customers and the best talent to their employee ranks.
Some great examples of authentic brands include Levi’s, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Lacoste. What’s also interesting about these brands is the fact that despite their efforts to “reinvent” the brand over time to make it current to changing customer needs and desires, they’ve remained true to what their brand stands for and why customers buy from them.
As company executives and marketing professionals, take every opportunity to communicate commitment to your customers and to your staff. Provide them with clear and direct messages about your brand promise and how you stand behind that mission. Be direct and transparent whenever possible to boost trust, loyalty and brand advocacy. Take social responsibility seriously. Your customers do. Lastly, be passionate about your brand and what you stand for. Your customers will be more passionate about it too.
What are your company’s core beliefs and values? What do you stand for?