For assured success in the current digital market, brands have to be authentic in their online marketing. This is especially so because people want authenticity in branding, particularly due to the prominence of advertising online. For brands, digital marketing is no longer only about getting seen by the market. But it is about ensuring that the message you put across is identifiable, relatable, reliable and verifiable.
Basis of authentic branding
As mentioned, authentic branding is not just rooted in growing visibility and recognition as is the case with traditional marketing. Instead, it focuses on ensuring that the brand builds trust and urges people to invest in the business and become loyal to it. The best way to do that is by telling a story instead of just coming up with an ad that has little meaning to the business or the customers. Storytelling to create authentic branding is one of the best ways to develop a relationship with the market, engage them and develop trust in a way that leads to their growing investment in your business. Of course, after creating all that hype, the story then has to be put to the test to prove that the company wasn’t just full of it.
This article looks at companies that have lived up to their branding hype time and again. The whose stories have proven true more than once. These are companies that people trust. Not just because they are the best at what they do. But because what they claimed about themselves turned out to be true.
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Airbnb is an online service that allows homeowners to rent out their property to people looking for a place to stay. Its client base includes both the guest and the homeowner. This is because Airbnb does not own or manage any of these properties itself. Instead, it provides a platform to link the hosts and guests. It is difficult to build brand authenticity around a service when you cannot guarantee the quality of the product. However, Airbnb manages to do this by appealing to both sides of the divide. The genius in their branding strategy lies in storytelling from the consumers perspective.
In a way, the hosts are the core customers of the service. Convincing someone to give up their home to a total stranger is in itself, a difficult challenge. To do this, Airbnb brands itself through its success stories – which are accounts from people who have already tried out the service and seen its merits and demerits first hand. It is a statistically proven fact that social proof, mainly by way of testimonials, is one of the most effective marketing strategies for any business.
The ‘Stories from AirBnB Community’ is, as a result, one of the best marketing strategies used by Airbnb. The campaign in itself is authentic. Because it is a collection of accounts from actual customers who have put the service to the test. Airbnb further enhances their brand authenticity using the ‘Belong Anywhere’ campaign, which uses short films and photos to give guests a view of what it is like to stay at a host’s home and put them at ease.
ExpressVPN is by far one of the best VPNs available in the market. It is notably the fastest VPN, and the company places heavy emphasis on security. Part of the company’s claim is their guarantee of security and privacy. This is one of the things that makes its branding so authentic and trustworthy.
The investigation into the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Ky is one of the most notable instances of ExpressVPN’s guarantee of security and privacy put to the test. According to media sources, Russian authorities found evidence that ExpressVPN had been used to log into Facebook and Gmail accounts of the assassin to delete critical evidence. However, even after the seizure of the server that was involved, the Russian and Turkish authorities could not find any connection or activity logs.
This is in line, with ExpressVPN’s policy not to store any user information including logs to guarantee the utmost user privacy and security. While ExpressVPN issued a statement condemning the misuse of their service, they also emphasized the need for privacy. Everything about the company, including its location out of the British Virgin Islands, works to reassure users of their privacy, security, and quality of service while using the app.
Apple is no doubt one of the most successful brands of the century – a feat strongly attributed to their branding. This is one of the companies that define authentic branding with every marketing campaign, product or service they develop. Over the years, Apple has inspired trust and loyalty to its customers. Thanks to its tenacity to keep true to its word. Their branding cuts across many different facets of life from guaranteeing quality, aesthetic appeal, innovation, humanistic culture, imagination, etc.
As far as an instance goes, it is hard to pick a single campaign that best exemplifies this fact because all their notable ads are enough proof. Some of these include the ‘Think Different Ad Campaign’ and the ‘There’s An App For That Ad Campaign’, among others. However, Apple’s brand authenticity extends beyond their marketing. Apple also makes excellent use of storytelling, ensuring that their products are of excellent quality, delivery of high-quality service and more. As far as brand authenticity goes, they deliver on exactly what they claim.
Dove is a soap company whose focus is to empower women and change the perception of beauty by turning it from a source of anxiety to one of confidence for women. Ever since its launch, Dove has crafted all its marketing efforts to align with this goal. The consistency in their goal of empowerment is something that works towards developing trust and living up to their branding hype.
An excellent example of one of Dove’s authentic marketing campaigns is the ‘Dove Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign. In this campaign, a sketch artist draws sketches of women from their description of themselves, without having seen the women. The artist then draws a second sketch of the same women from a stranger’s description of the women. These sketches are then placed next to each other for the women to view. In most cases, the sketch drawn from a stranger’s description is usually more attractive than the one from the woman’s description of themselves. This campaign helped show women that they are far more beautiful than they perceive themselves to be. The most notable and relatable aspect of this campaign is that it uses everyday women instead of models.
You see, in this campaign Dove manages to speak directly to its core consumer – the average everyday woman. These are women who feel a more significant pressure to be attractive in a world that has come to exult feminine beauty above all else, which is also the most authentic aspect of this campaign. Dove’s campaign, therefore, engages and connects directly with the customer and builds trust.
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Burt’s Bees is a body care brand started in 1984 after a chance meeting between its two founders. Despite having grown from a two-person business into a multimillion dollar company, Burt’s Bees has maintained the same philosophy that people should only use nature’s best on their bodies. The company focuses not just on people but also on the Planet. The brand is about caring for our skins and the world. The company has achieved Carbon Neutral Certification and uses sustainable packaging and natural products. This is proof positive of their authentic branding.
An even better example is the company’s ‘Bring back the bees’ campaign which aimed to raise awareness about the declining population of bees in the world. One of the company’s core focus is environmental sustainability, and they make very positive strides to achieve their sustainability goals. The money used in the campaign would be used to plant flowers for the bees to pollinate and live off. The campaign itself generated a lot of social media traffic and went to improving the company’s bottom line and outlook.
The Bottom Line
In today’s competitive market, companies have to think outside the usual margins, get creative and come up with better and innovative ways of convincing people to invest. To do this successfully, the company has to prove that it is true to its word; any and all claims made can be backed up if the need arises. The companies listed above manage to live up to their branding hype and take up the monopoly of their markets. They then remain at the top because of their ability to draw and maintain loyal clients. This is the direction other companies should move.