Building Brand Authenticity and Trust

August 13, 2018

By Richard Feldman

Diego Schutman/

The Journal of Consumer Psychology defines brand authenticity as "The extent to which consumers perceive a brand to be faithful toward itself, true to its consumers, motivated by caring and responsibility, and able to support consumers in being true to themselves."

When you think about the qualities you want in a friend, what comes to mind? There are many things to consider but few are more important than trust and authenticity. You need to be able to trust someone that you let into your life and that they are who they say they are. Mitt Romney famously said in 2011 that "corporations are people," and while he was saying that in answer to a question about political contributions, today's marketers would do well to adapt that quote to how corporations treat and communicate with people (customers and prospects).

What are the hallmarks of an authentic brand? First and foremost is communicating with customers open and honestly about products and services. Most importantly, this communication has to be two-way. Concerns must be addressed in a way that shows compassion and caring. When it comes to sharing negative experiences about a company or product, consumers have gained the upper hand through multiple channels and it can spread like wildfire. When negative feedback happens, there are key components for handling it that can defuse problems and turn them into your advantage.

  • Always be listening: Active social listening is key to discovering problems as they occur
  • Response time matters: Respond fast. Don't wait and allow others to see negative reviews without your response.
  • Respond in a caring way: Be real. Express your regret in human terms. Let everyone see that you are going to address all issues.
  • Respond publicly then privately: Let the social community know you care. Then reach out to the individual(s) concerned.

Don't forget to focus on the positive feedback just as much as the negative. Communicate and support those who support you by showing how much you value their patronage and advocacy. Use the same above list. Listen. Respond with equal speed. Thank them for their feedback and value.

By listening and responding appropriately to your customers, you'll also have the added benefit of using this feedback response loop bring innovative and improved products, services, and ideas to market. This only increases your authenticity score further.


Richard Feldman is a director of brand activation at the ANA.

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