AUTHENTIC BRAND Best practices for successful CONNECTIONS brand management Chelsie French Jess Hornyak Laura Leskoven Meredith Pursell Communicat ions Maria Rassokhina
MOST IMPORTANT PART OF AN AUTHENTIC BRANDThe consumer! There isn’t an exact definition of authentic, so there isn’t an exact definition of an authentic brand. Therefore, achieving an authentic brand connection varies from person to person. It involves putting the consumer first, and keeping in mind how a consumer wants to interact with a brand. Success in the eyes of the consumer will be success for your brand.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF AN AUTHENTIC BRAND CONTINUED We found that since an authentic brand connection is subjective, there are many definitions of what an authentic brand is. We’re going to take you through a few of those definitions with examples to help illustrate the point, and we’ll end with some advice to apply to whatever brand you’re working on – keep these tips in mind with whatever brand you’re working on and you’ll be successful!
DEFINITIONS OF AN From a consumersAUTHENTIC BRAND point of view
STORY TELLING“The definition of an authentic brand is one with a crediblestory. The company was founded by the Disney brothers, Royand Walt, a venture that started in their uncle’s garage. Theybegan with silent animated shorts in the 1920s, and soonintroduced beloved characters like Mickey Mouse. Thecompany has grown into the largest media conglomerate inthe world (in terms of revenue). Throughout all this changeand growth over the past 8 decades, every element of thebrand can be tied back to Disney brothers, and their oldestfriend Mickey Mouse. It’s amazing that films like Bambi, SnowWhite, and Pinocchio - films that my mother grew up with, arethe same films I’ll be showing my children and grandchildrensomeday.Their story is very well-known, and spans several generations.It is a brand I grew up with, and one I trust because it’s beenthere my whole life. Times have changed, but The Walt Disneycompany remains true to its original values - providing qualityentertainment for the whole family. “
TRADITIONWell, I think it’s great for a brand to have a story element, but for me, what makes a brandauthentic is when it’s in-tune with culture. I like brands that understand how I feel andwhat I value. Brands that reflects the tradition and values of a society, but are up-to-dateand forward-thinking.One brand that I think is authentic is the Ralph Lauren company. Ralph Lauren clothinghas that “all-American” feel--it’s polo shirts and khakis and Americana. It symbolizes ournation’s prosperity through polo horses and houses on Cape Cod. It’s really patriotic.Also, Ralph Lauren also reflects our country’s love of the “American Dream.” He was theson of immigrants and grew up in the Bronx, and he built his empire from the ground up,so his brand and success from his various lines--show the “pull yourself up by yourbootstraps” mentality that we traditionally value in our society and that we love. The RalphLauren brand reflects a key part of American society, one that I connect with.
ADDED BENEFITS “For me an authentic brand does not just sell me a product or service: they exceed my expectations in a way that makes me feel comfortable around them. By giving out complementary products and services, or just paying extra attention to customer service, they make me feel like I am valued and appreciated. They blur the distinction between a consumer and corporation, and create a natural relationship. I love flying JetBlue because it streams free live DirectTV to passengers and serves wide assortment of complimentary cold and hot drinks on board. JetBlue is the highest rated and the only 4-star airline in the United States. Jet Blue believes that they are “not just flying airplanes” but rather “flying people”. It shows, and I love that about them.”
HIGHER VISION I really connect with brands who give back to the community. Brands who lead a helping hand to those in need show me through their actions how authentic they truly are. My favorite example of this is TOMS shoes. Their One for One model really resonates with me. Im able to have my trendy shoes, but Im also providing shoes for a child in need. Blake started with a vision to provide shoes for children who would normally go through day-to-day activities barefoot. Shoes help protect them against diseases and give them an opportunity to attend school, since most schools require shoes as part of the dress code. With the idea that shoes improve health and can help make attending school a reality TOMS ultimately provides the opportunity for these children to succeed. They have already delivered over 1 million pairs of shoes to children all over the world. TOMS is always looking for more ways to help improve the lives of others.
COMMUNIT YAn authentic brand can be a non-profit as well.Sports teams are a great example of a “brand” that createsa community. If you’re a sports fan, I’m sure you absolutelyunderstand this feeling of a community with your team.The Green Bay Packers show one of the best examples of anauthentic brand connection in sports. The Packers are the ONLYnon-profit community owned major league sports team in theUnited States. This means that the fans really are part of the team.One year after a bad snowstorm, the team needed the fieldand stands removed of the snow. People drove from all overthe state to help get the field ready for Sunday.Living in Wisconsin and rooting for the Packers has become somewhatof an unspoken requirement. I think it’s partly because of beingfan-owned and partly because of being a major league team thrivingin a small city and partly because people from Wisconsin are justridiculously loyal. Either way, it’s created a brand community that’struly unique. Regardless of which team is your favorite, it’s one that’shard to argue with.
OUR ADVICE Key i n s i ght s a n d re c o m menda tio ns
IF YOU REMEMBER NOTHING ELSE, REMEMBER THESE 5 THINGS. Do your homework. Know who your target is and who your communicating with, not who you want it to be. Be sincere. Remember core values. Adapt to change. Be adaptable and stay relevant. Change happens. Engage in conversation. Not everyone will like you – a little debate is often a good thing.