Is brand authenticity worth pursuing as a business goal?

The term ‘brand authenticity’ has been cementing itself in the marketing lexicon as businesses are increasingly realizing its significance. Today, people want you to give them a purpose, something to believe in and it’s not about the products alone. You are being judged for reasons beyond the quality of goods that you deliver. Therefore, brand authenticity requires you to really understand your customers and is built over a long period of time. But is it worth all the trouble? Absolutely. Before we delve into the ‘why’, lets first closely understand what brand authenticity is all about.

What is brand authenticity?

In 2014, Cohn & Wolfe conducted a study on 12000 consumers in the United States and other key markets around the world. The respondents were asked to reveal what they thought an authentic brand meant in 140 characters.

The results showed that people relate brand authenticity with words like honest, transparent, fair, responsible and accountable. They expected an authentic brand to also have a purpose beyond making money.

According to Nikki Baird's writing for Forbes, authenticity should permeate every single domain of a company. “It’s that simple: even today most brands are still about making profits, but it’s about trust that the brand truly and completely lives its most authentic self, from top to bottom. From the CEO to the guy loading boxes on the truck, from the product design to the supply chain that makes it.”

This trend is driven both by the Millenials and Gen Z, who, while showing less brand loyalty, demand more from the brands and expect them to “stand for something valuable and it better be something that makes the world a better place.”

Why should you care about brand authenticity?

Simply because brand authenticity will be the chief criteria for brand selection among U.S. consumers across various sectors, including Quick service restaurants. Today’s consumers are looking to interact and engage with brands that give them something to believe in, something to stand behind. Your brand should create an instant “ah-ha” moment - just instantly!

For example, a survey conducted by Blis stated that brands like Chipotle were ranked higher by respondents over its competitors because it adopted authenticity about food and meal preparation in its advertising.

The idea is to entice customers with a purpose and promise and deliver on that promise.

How can you build brand authenticity for your restaurant business?

Be transparent

It’s clear that consumers appreciate honest communication about products and services. Consumers are increasingly aware of what they’re putting in their bodies and making informed decisions while making food choices. They want to know the source of their food and the calories each dish contains. Catering a generation that’s more environmentally aware is one way to capture fast-moving trends and stay on top of the game. Let them believe that they are making a difference to the world by choosing your business.

Walk the talk

Consumers will not stand by a brand that shows inconsistencies between what it preaches and what it actually practices. Define your core values and make sure these pervade through every single element of your branding and operations. Communicate these values to your customers clearly and consistently, whether through your staff members, your social media interactions or your website. To create an impact on your customers, focus on these three things - natural, simpler, more local!

Tell an original and engaging story

It’s obvious that for a restaurant telling a story involves a narration of your brand’s history, your plans for the future, the people behind the scenes, etc. But to create a more compelling narrative that creates a sense of shared feeling with your customers, your storytelling also needs to run across every other aspect like the interior design, website, mobile app, social media, communication materials, supply chain, etc. At Restolabs, we offer complete customization to match the brand’s story. This helps maintain a consistent brand message across all platforms.

Be caring

When we say be caring, we don’t just mean that you should care for your customers. You should also show regard for your staff members. In a restaurant business, where your staff has direct contact with the diners, it’s easy to notice the company culture and how well your staff is being treated. Besides, caring also means standing up for a cause that your customers believe in. For instance; supporting local farmers is one way to contribute to society while creating a positive experience for your brand.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a big restaurant or a small one, brand authenticity is a business goal worth pursuing. In fact, those who do not will quickly start to become irrelevant. On the other hand, a company perceived as authentic will be more sustainable and experience a continued positive impact on sales.