A brand is more than its products, logo, or tagline. It evokes a feeling and an idea in consumers that keeps them coming back time after time. For businesses big and small, developing an authentic brand that resonates with consumers can seem like a daunting task, but there are a few places where you can start.
1. Define brand values
To be an authentic brand, you first need to establish who you are and the values you stand for as a company. After all, the very definition of authentic is being true to one's own personality or character. How can you be that if you don't know who you are as a brand?
This doesn't need to be a complicated or lengthy process. A simple set of values can help everyone, both internally and externally, easily understand your brand. According to Harvard Business Review, 64 percent of consumers say shared values help them create a trusted relationship with a brand.
Having a clearly stated mission statement and set of values will guide how you conduct business, manage employees and communicate with consumers. It also serves as a foundation for your brand to build on.
2. Set the tone internally
How you're viewed internally is as important, if not more, than how consumers experience the brand. After all, your employees are the face of the brand and interact with customers every day. A Deloitte survey found 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success, and your company values have a direct impact on company culture. Training your employees on your values and setting expectations for your internal culture is the next critical step.
Provide your employees with training and equip them with the tools they need to understand and convey your brand values. When you set expectations, you are empowering them to act as a representative of your brand. It also helps them feel a sense of ownership and shows them that they are valuable team members.
3. Market your brand authentically
Bringing a brand to life externally can happen through many channels--marketing materials, media, website, social media--but everything you put out there should feel authentic. According to SlideShare, 80 percent of consumers said "authenticity of content" is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand.
Start with thinking through your brand personality. If your brand was a person, how would they act? What characteristics would they have? Going through exercises like this can help you nail down a voice and tone to guide development of everything from your marketing materials to your social media channels. In addition to feeling authentic, your brand should also be consistent. Consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23 percent and color alone improves brand recognition by up to 80 percent. Everything you put out there for public consumption should have the same look and feel.
Whether you're a big or small company, just starting out or established, building an authentic brand can start at any time, building a foundation of values and purpose can truly impact everything from customer experience to employee satisfaction, which will ultimately lead to better business results.