In a market where it takes so much work to gain customer trust, what can you do to become a trustworthy brand?

According to the Gustavson Brand Trust Index, brand trust fell to an all-time low in 2020.

But the following year, the same researchers discovered a trait that could help you bring that trust back: authenticity. Brand authenticity and brand trust have a major relationship going on.

While Gustavson uses authenticity to talk about social responsibility, we’d argue you can apply that take to brand authenticity as a whole — showing your customers your human side.

How can you make your brand more authentic to build trust with your customers? Let’s talk more about the importance of authenticity and five ways you can boost it for your brand.

The Importance of Authenticity

Your brand’s authenticity can make or break your customers’ buying decisions. A survey of more than 1,500 consumers showed that 90% think authenticity is important when deciding what brands to support.

Just as data-driven brand building helps you establish a solid brand, so does authenticity-driven brand building. Use data to establish your brand strategy, then find ways to make that strategy feel authentic.

5 Ways to Make Your Brand More Authentic

Here are five actionable strategies you can use to solidify your brand’s authenticity.

Add social proof

This might not be the first time you’ve seen us suggest using social proof in your marketing, and for good reason. It’s one of the best ways to build trust in your brand.

Social proof is evidence showing other customers like your brand. Think reviews, social media posts from customers, and case studies. These stamps of approval go a long way in building trust through authenticity.

After all, customers are more likely to trust people on their level over a brand they don’t know yet. Social proof gives your marketing a human touch that breaks down barriers to trust.

Use social proof in your marketing wherever you can to add authenticity. We’re talking websites, landing pages, social media posts — anywhere you have space to vouch for yourself.

Think of ways to get creative with your social proof, like Descript’s use of customer tweets to make a full testimonial:

Image courtesy of Descript

All of the phrases in the quote come from real Tweets that you can read in the collection linked below it. They say to use your customers’ language in your marketing, and Descript cranked up that advice to the maximum level.

Share your story

Your story is what separates your business from your brand. Strong brands have a mission behind them, whether it’s something simple like making people happier or something ambitious like helping the environment. Share how your brand came to be and why you do what you do to build trust with your customers.

You’ll often see a brand’s story on their “About Us” page. Look how Trade Coffee shares its mission and beliefs on its “Our Mission/About Us” page.

Image courtesy of Trade Coffee

Now, here’s where they add authenticity: They go back to those principles in other parts of their marketing, like their home page copy.

Image courtesy of Trade Coffee

Trade Coffee aims to sell fresh coffee from community roasters and shows how those values affect customers on their home page. If you don’t have your brand story down pat yet, think of ways to connect your mission to the benefits your product provides your customers.

Looking for more inspiration for your brand story? Try creating a strong value proposition first, then tying that value proposition back to your brand’s history.

Use real images

Stock images are often better than no images on a website, but they don’t show customers what your brand and product really are. They can’t beat pictures of the real thing.

Share real photos of your team members, your product, and your customers in your marketing. If you have room in your budget, get a photographer to take professional photos. Running short on money? Find the team member with the best phone camera, pose an employee or product up against a neutral background, and press that button.

Bala sells footwear for nurses specially designed for medical shifts. They used nurse feedback to create their product, and now they use pictures of real nurses to market their product:

Image courtesy of Bala

Look for the people who make your brand unique and share their pictures instead of photos of a stock model you’ve never met.

In cases where you do need to use stock photos, though, look for ones that look natural over ones that are clearly posed. Natural-looking stock photos are still a great way to improve your marketing’s imagery.

Stay transparent

So far, we’ve talked about adding authenticity to your brand’s look, feel, and messaging. But, you also build your brand as you interact with your customers. Your communication methods affect your customers’ perception of your brand.

If you want to build a truly authentic brand, you need to practice what you preach and stay transparent with your customers. Openness is key in any healthy relationship, including the one between you and your customers.

You probably hear more about brands breaking this rule than when they follow it. A brand makes a mistake and they take forever to follow up on it. Or, even worse — they don’t say anything about it at all.

Every brand messes up. When you make your next goof, keep your customers in the loop and apologize for the inconvenience.

On Twitter, copywriter and content strategist Jacob McMillen shared an outage apology from Calendly that shows a genuine desire to do better:

Image courtesy of Jacob McMillen/Calendly

McMillen points out in the tweet that Calendly should have sent an email like this during the outage instead of after, but the messaging in this email is solid. The email explains what Calendly did to fix the issue and what they’ll do in the future to prevent it. Best of all, the email comes straight from the CEO.

Listen as much as you speak

When you market your brand, it’s easy to keep talking about yourself. It’s much harder — but also more important — to listen to what your customers have to say about your brand.

Take the time to be quiet and listen to your audience. You can adapt a lot of audience research methods, like surveys and social listening, for customer feedback purposes. Pay attention to what your customers say about your product and address concerns where you can.

You also have plenty of ways to make it fun and easy for customers to share their feedback. In an oldie but a goodie example, CSS Hat had customers vote for the features they wanted on a landing page:

Image courtesy of CSS Hat

Free Up Resources to Work on a More Authentic Brand

It takes ongoing work to build an authentic brand. You’ll need to keep an open line with customers and share your brand’s purpose to build trust with your audience. Once you have your marketing materials ready, you’re not done — you’re just getting started with making your brand more authentic.

Unbounce’s Conversion Intelligence Platform handles landing page building, copy ideas, and traffic targeting so you can spend more time on authentic customer communication. Let Smart Builder, Smart Copy, and Smart Traffic handle the heavy work so you can add more human touches to your brand.

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