At the heart of branding is the ability to meet consumer expectations. For instance, if you are enamored with the Tesla brand and spend months researching everything about the car’s performance and the viability of charging, then if you buy one and find that everything you read about it was true, then the brand believably owns those virtues.
But, as Robert Passikoff, the founder and CEO of Brand Keys, notes in a recent post, “It turns out that there’s an enormous difference between a brand saying something, a brand doing something, and a brand saying and doing something believably.”
For instance, in a 2017 Pepsi Super Bowl ad, Kendall Jenner appeared to solve the issue of racism by giving a cop a Pepsi. Obviously, Pepsi didn’t solve racism and the ad was criticized for overreach.
As Passikoff says, authenticity is everything when it comes to branding. Obviously, consumers make some concessions for advertising in this regard. “Brands look to position themselves in the best light. If not, they should consider an agency review!" he notes.
But consumers are more skeptical of advertising and brand promises these days, especially when verification is only a tweet or Google search away. This is especially true of discount retailers. Brand loyalty research shows that customers really do care where and how a product is manufactured, Passikoff says.
Research bears this out. Brand Keys polled Walmart and Target shoppers and found that people who found a brand to be “authentic” shopped that brand six times more frequently, bought more products from the retailer, and were more likely to rebuff competitive offers.
This research into brand authenticity is interesting and explores an aspect of branding that some often ignore, at their peril.