If a company’s values fail to align with its actions, modern customers will notice and lose trust in the brand. Moving forward, you’ll need to engage audiences in a consistent and authentic way.
The past two years paved the way for a new normal when it comes to how people spend their money. Gone are the days of choosing products based on brand affinity. Modern customers make conscious decisions about every product they buy — shampoo, salad dressing, socks, etc.
There’s been a global shift in awareness and accessibility to information around the world. As a result, more customers are focusing on social issues such as racial injustice, eco-friendly business practices, and more. They want to patronize companies with principles that align with their personal values.
This is a unique time for leadership when it comes to defining and showcasing your brand’s identity. Thankfully, demonstrating authenticity isn’t as challenging as it may sound. Here’s how you can embrace transparency and exemplify your brand values:
- Let customers see your company behind the scenes.
The best way to connect with customers right now is to show off your team members. When you highlight employees, you’re showing people who’s behind your brand’s success. Not only does this give outsiders a look in, but it also makes your team members feel valued and seen.
Ready to put your team members in the spotlight? Here are some tips:
# Utilize social media to illustrate specific team members’ achievements.
# Host an account takeover during a company event and have employees show off what they’re doing.
# Use employees’ personal photos instead of stock photos on your website and social media accounts.
# When someone new joins the team, create a fun blog post introducing them.
# Record interview videos with team members about their roles in the company.
Showing people what’s behind the curtain is a great way to foster engagement and establish trust. “By giving customers an inside look at how your company operates, it allows them to connect with your brand on a deeper level by feeling like they [are] a part of your team,” an E/Power Marketing blog post explains. “They’ll get a better idea of your company culture and whether or not your brand’s values line up with their own.”
- Showcase your values through the customer experience.
Building your values into every customer touchpoint creates a consistent experience that radiates authenticity. It sets a precedent for what people can expect from you. For instance, Target aims to “help all families discover the joy of everyday life.” Customers who frequent its stores are treated to clean, organized aisles, and the company frequently sponsors free community events.
By focusing on the customer experience, you’re not simply telling people what’s important to you. You’re showing them. “Lots of brands are careful about clearly articulating their position in all communications, but it’s even more important to demonstrate your values through your actions,” says Jeff Snyder, chief inspiration officer at Inspira Marketing Group. “Without authenticity, contributing to a cause is just a publicity stunt; today’s savvy consumers will see right through it.”
- Ensure your brand message is consistent across channels.
The message you deliver across platforms should align with your values. But when you’re dealing with multiple forms of communication, such as a blog, social media accounts, print ads, and more, it’s difficult to maintain consistency. If that happens, your customers will eventually notice. And when they do, they may see you as less authentic or trustworthy. People won’t know which “version” of the brand is real.
However, if your message is steadfast and true, customers will learn that they can count on you. Trust leads to loyalty, and loyalty leads to an increase in revenue. The key to consistent messaging is balancing authenticity, relatability, and promotion. Too many messages about the brand will have adverse effects, but failing to talk about your company’s purpose isn’t good either. Once you find the right mix of each, you’ll control your brand’s narrative.
- Own your mistakes.
What separates an authentic brand from one that’s not is the ability to acknowledge and take ownership of mistakes. Customers will notice when you fail to uphold your values. If you don’t address it, they’ll lose trust.
“Authentic brands admit when they have screwed up and take the steps necessary to right their mistake,” says author and licensing expert Pete Canalichio. “People look at brands like personal relationships. Even our closest friends make mistakes. We are willing, even if sometimes anxious, to forgive. We just want to be told, ‘I’m sorry. I messed up.’ When that happens, all is right. When it doesn’t, things are never the same. The same goes for brands.”
It might seem scary to acknowledge the elephant in the room, but these tips can help:
- Publicly acknowledge that your brand made a mistake, and utilize social media to communicate with followers about it.
- Admit that you wanted to try something new and it didn’t work out.
- When appropriate, use humor to relieve tension and laugh at your mistakes alongside your customers.
Your brand values are an integral part of what makes you unique. Moving forward, it’s imperative to communicate those values to customers. People want to buy from brands they resonate with, so you need to demonstrate authenticity in order to engage and retain customers.
Written by Rhett Power.
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