Brand Authenticity

Have you ever experienced a product or service which didn’t live it up to its hype…?

I’ll bet you have.  As marketing has grown as a profession, so too has the ability of marketers to promote their Brands with unrealistic and extravagant claims.   But when companies choose to focus on creating great advertising instead of great product experiences, customer satisfaction is inevitably the casualty.

Over-promising and under-delivering can be a seductive short-term marketing strategy.  In fact, it’s often cheaper and easier to create hype, than products with genuine substance.

However, that’s a short-sighted approach which never creates Brands of enduring value.  There’s truth in the old adage that customers, “once bitten” are “twice shy”.  Companies built on marketing hype and rhetoric may enjoy initial success, but frequently struggle to retain customers or remain successful over time.

The core issue is Brand Authenticity.

We live in an era of ample choice, intense competition, and customers who are increasingly savvy about product claims and promotions.  Too often burned by over-promise and under-delivery, customers are turning to those Brands which actually live up to their claims.

Brand Authenticity is the most effective strategy for building an enduring business.  But it requires genuine commitment throughout the company.  It starts with the creation of products that solve a genuine need, and extends through quality of manufacture, marketing which accurately promotes product benefits, and bona fide commitment to excellent post-sale support and service.

Companies that demonstrate Brand Authenticity have justified faith in their products.  They “walk the talk” in pursuit of providing genuine customer satisfaction.  Their integrity shines through, not only in their promotion of their Brand, but also in their day to day actions and commercial decisions.

And, when they stumble – perhaps with manufacturing or supplier issues, recalls and the like – they go the extra mile to ensure that their customers’ concerns are resolved.

Brand Authenticity provides significant commercial pay-offs to those companies which practice it…

  • People reward authenticity with loyalty.  Loyal customers repeat purchase, and willingly provide a larger share of their overall spending.
  • Customers share their Brand experiences – good and bad – with their colleagues, acquaintances and (in the age of social networking) hundreds of thousands of complete strangers.   Referred recommendations and warnings are now a key driver of purchasing behaviour.
  • A study* by Australian consultancy Principals showed that, the higher the authenticity of a Brand, the higher its share of high-value customers.

When you add to those all the other commercial benefits of a strong Brand, the case for Brand Authenticity is clearly made.

Finally, you may be asking: does Brand Authenticity in marketing require an absence of marketing hype…?

No!   Being accurate about product claims doesn’t require dull, boring marketing communications.   Promotions should always seize customers’ attention, and communicate with imagination.  They just need to be truthful.

In fact, when pre-sale hype and rhetoric is matched by the post-sale product experience, it adds to customer satisfaction and repeat purchase.

* Principals add to their definition of Brand Authenticity other considerations, including originality, familiarity, momentum and heritage.


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