4 Steps to Building an Authentic Brand

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“Determine who you are and what your brand is, and what you're not. The rest of it is just a lot of noise.” – Geoffrey Zakarian

 

Authenticity in branding has become a buzzword, many brands pay lip service to it, but few deliver it consistently.

So what is “authenticity”?  It’s a way of communicating and acting that is driven by an organization’s core values and how they intend to fulfill a central promise. A brand’s values and core promise align with their customers’ values to create lasting relationships.

For example, Seventh Generation values environmental stewardship and promised at their inception that every action they take, and every product they make, would not harm the environment. Those values have earned them tremendous loyalty, and they have maintained that commitment even after being acquired by a major corporation.

Here are a few ideas from our Minimal Viable Brand process that we use to build authentic brands:


 

1. Know who you are

To be authentic, you have to spend some serious effort understanding your organization’s values (culture), motivations beyond profit, and the positive impact you hope to make. Because branding is a type of storytelling, we’ve found that Jungian archetypes provide a useful framework for understanding who you are and how your brand character aligns with you customer’s values.  

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2. Define your promise

We believe that when you boil down a brand, it’s really about making - and keeping - a fundamental promise. in our MVB process, we use a handy “mad lib” to help our clients define their fundamental promise, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. Defining and achieving an ambitious promise takes time and effort.

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3. Share and iterate internally

Once you have a solid understanding of your brand’s promise, share it widely and frequently with your team. Take time to talk through these ideas at all levels of your company. Conversation and anecdotal learning will help your team internalize your brand’s core DNA, creating a culture that imbues every action with authenticity.

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4. In all you do, stay true

Use your understanding of your brand's character, values, and promise as a reference point to drive all of your activities, from communications to packaging to customer service. Consumers notice inconsistency easily and not being true to your promise will undermine hard won trust and loyalty.

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david barnum