Brand authenticity and your bottom line – the perfect mix for company growth

Article by Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer, Solutionize Global

young Asian woman looking at laptop, watchin a webinarBrand authenticity during the time of a pandemic is paramount. Curating the right tone and remaining humble — when consumers are living in a state of heightened alertness — will directly impact your bottom line.

How? It makes your organisation relatable, and in times of uncertainty customers will naturally be attracted to anything that feels stable, secure, and ‘normal’.

A study by the Harvard Business Review found that individuals consistently preferred companies that values ‘openness, relevance, empathy, experience, and emotion’ — with a brand’s performance on these points being found to directly impact profit.

And authenticity in a brand’s messaging not only secures an identity of a principled business, but also solidifies its credibility and its commitment to core values – helping consumers feel more comfortable in dealing with them.

A brand can deliver on this when it has clarity of vision — knowing why it exists and what it stands for. This lucidity feeds through to customers, encouraging them to form long-term relationships with not only the business, but the people behind it.

In fact, in an international Cohn and Wolfe survey, 72% of those questioned ranked authenticity above innovation and product uniqueness when asked what they valued most in a brand, evidencing that you could have the best product or service on the market, but will be avoided by prospects if they believe the brand to be dishonest.

But how can you demonstrate that you are authentic? Consumers like to see the human side of business, so being transparent about your path to success and any hardships you have encountered will encourage engagement. Using this form of messaging strategically and consistently throughout your content, messaging, and day-to-day interactions will act as a magnet, drawing people to you.

This attraction to known humanness by consumers explains the rise in user-generated content, the most honest and relatable comms of all.

Authenticity allows individuals to engage with each other in powerful ways, enabling us to innovate together and drive real change within our industries. And it isn’t just limited to our interactions with customers — as a management style, authenticity is engaging and effective, with leaders able to see powerful results by incorporating this approach.

So, how can businesses showcase their values and integrity to consumers? Once you have built your branding strategy and have identified the key parts that make you authentic, investing in long-term brand management efforts are essential.

This should transcend product lines, allowing your business to grow while maintaining a loyal and engaged customer base that is more likely to not only purchase from you, but to become an advocate by recommending you to their networks.

When done correctly, authentic messaging delivers fantastic ROI, but your brand story must stay consistent and aligned to foster a great experience for your customers.

About the author

Rachel McElroy, Solutionize GlobalAs chief marketing officer for technology solutions and services provider, Solutionize Global, Rachel is passionate about maximising customer experience and ensuring the organisation’s quality provision meets every end user’s requirements. As a brand and comms specialist, Rachel delivers high-performing marketing campaigns that celebrate SG’s bespoke service. An eloquent and well-respected industry commentator – especially in the diversity in tech space – commercially-savvy Rachel is a sales enablement expert who crafts tailored messaging to engage and inspire the firm’s wide-ranging customer base, and positively impacts its bottom line.

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

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social media, likes, neon sign, brand authenticity

Navigating brand authenticity through a time of turbulence

social media, likes, neon sign, brand authenticity

Article provided by Jamie Gilpin, CMO, Sprout Social

This year has brought on many challenges, one of them being that we saw a year’s worth of digital transformation in just a matter of weeks.

As businesses were forced to shut their doors across the globe, social media quickly became the sole connection point between many brands and their consumers, accelerating a change in dynamic that has been building over recent years.

We have relied on social media more than ever before to help us through a global pandemic, navigate deep cultural movements and stay connected to the world. And this increased reliance on social has reinforced that consumers are in the driver’s seat in navigating their relationships with brands.

Social gives us the ability to directly contact brands and publicly reject statements that do not feel genuine, which has driven brands to become less self-serving and look at how to drive real change. Our current conditions have also driven consumers to increasingly activate brands to take action and make a positive impact on the world around us.

Following in the footsteps of companies like Nike and Patagonia, the list of brands taking social and political stands has grown to span every industry. Not only are companies increasingly speaking out, but the tech sector’s focus on social good is rapidly growing. As of last year, the UK’s “Tech for social good” market is worth £2.3 billion, directly tackling challenges in healthcare, education, finance and sustainability.

Even if your core product isn’t directly addressing a socio-economic issue, recent Sprout Social research shows 70 per cent of consumers believe it’s important that brands take a stand on social and political issues. And when brands take a stand consumers align with, 36 per cent say they’ll purchase more from that company. This will only continue to grow in an environment where consumer trust is low and social causes are at the forefront of every conversation. But authenticity is equally important in this environment and without it, a brand’s social impact efforts can fall flat.

Focus on impact

Beyond the transactional relationship, brands who take a stand are able to shape larger conversations beyond their own businesses. Now more than ever, brands are placed in the spotlight to highlight important issues and even educate their audiences on how they themselves can be part of driving change. In fact, of the consumers who want brands to take a stand, 66 per cent say they believe brands can create real change when they voice their beliefs, while 62 per cent believe brands are successfully educating consumers on important topics. This is especially relevant given the rise of social activism and the role it’s playing in changing the course of history across the globe.

Part of building an authentic stance is recognising that you don’t have to weigh in on every public issue, just the ones that matter most to your company, your employees and the people you serve. Our research found that 29 per cent of people say a stand is believable when brands focus on issues that directly affect their employees. However, the stakes have changed when it comes to major social issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement or the rise in racial injustice, and not responding at all could be a big indicator of who you are as a company and what your values are.

Commit to core values

Indeed, there’s a time and place for everything. Asked when it is appropriate for brands to take a stand on social media, 43 per cent of people say brands should speak out when an issue directly impacts their business. On the other hand, 23 per cent of consumers say it’s never appropriate for brands to take a stand on social media. So, how should brands be responding to issues their audience cares about?

When weighing in on an issue, your response should be clear and direct, and should include specific commitments and contributions your company will be making. Be sure to share why taking a stand is important to you and outline how you will be supporting the cause.

Prioritise transparency

Brands who take a stand must remember the role transparency plays in building authentic connections with their audiences. Being transparent not only leads to increased trust and loyalty, but also empathy in return from consumers. When brands have a history of being transparent, 85 per cent of consumers are more likely to stick by them during a brand crisis. But in order to meet increasingly demanding consumer expectations, brands must first put in the investment to understand what transparency means to their audiences to ensure their response is relevant and genuine.

This new dynamic is certainly putting pressure on brands. Not long ago, companies could focus solely on the advantages of their product to build consumer following. But as purpose becomes a differentiating factor that directly impacts consumer loyalty, tech companies must look beyond their products and examine what their brand impact is in order to truly build authentic connections and help consumers navigate this uncertain world.

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.