Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CPG Executives: Branding Authenticity, the Key to Make Your Brand Stand Out Today

As consumers have access to more information about brands in today’s world, brand authenticity becomes a more and more critical point of difference for consumer-packaged goods.  But with consumers gaining more power in their relationships with brands, how to build an authentic brand image in their perception?

As a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC program (@VitaminIMC) with an interest in brand management, I have identified two articles that can help CPG branders to successfully make your brand authentic.

In the article “Customers Demand These 2 Fundamental Aspects of Authentic Brands”, Jim Joseph (@JimJoseph ), the President of Cohn & Wolfe, pointed out that purpose and protection are the 2 aspects consumers care most about brand authenticity, especially for entrepreneurial marketing. Based on his research, 76 percent of U.S. consumers think brands should have a story of what they believe besides making money. For protection, consumers not only want brands help them avoid harms, they also assume brands should protect them. 78 percent of consumers would stop buying the brands when they don’t feel safe with the brands. The conclusion is that to build an authentic brand image, marketers need to show transparency in business practice in consumer communication.

(Picture source: marketoonist @tomfishburne)

While purpose and protection are essential in building brand authenticity, Matthew Hutson’s(@matthewhutson(silverjacket)) article “Quenching Consumers’ Thirst for ‘Authentic’ Brands” argues that heritage, sincerity and commitment to quality are 3 dimensions consumers see as brand authenticity. It is also concluded in the article that these 3 dimensions are linked with each other. To make consumers trust your brand, marketers should figure out a way of telling the brand story so that consumers can feel the connection between them and the brand.

Based on the 2 articles and my graduation study in Medill IMC Program, there are 3 action items I recommend you to consider.
  • Listen To Consumers – Brand authenticity has different meanings to different consumers. Abandon your assumption and listen to what consumers think of it.
  • Tell A Good Story – Authentic brand doesn’t mean being bland. Find a cultural essence of your brand as the heritage and tell consumers a good story to show them a transparent business process.
  • Grow On Your Heritage – For those brands already have heritage, root the communication in it while grow with your consumers as the social environment change. Adjust the meaning of the brand and use social media for efficient communication. 

In this versatile market environment, if your brand is not perceived as authentic, it is fatal. To stand out in the homogeneous world, CPG brands really need to consider the proposals mentioned above. Keep in mind that transparency and openness will always be the base of successful authentic brand building.

 “Rain”, Xinwei Yang is a graduate student pursuing her M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern. She will be graduated in Dec. 2015. She is a marketer specializing in branding and interactive marketing with a strong passion in the consumer packaged goods industry. You can reach Rain on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter @Rain_yxw.

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