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Era of Honest Content: The Significance of Brand Authenticity

In today’s digital age, authenticity is paramount for brands. It’s not just about selling products but about building trust and genuine connections with consumers. The audience nowadays are smart; they can identify whether a specific content is paid/sponsored or not, hence hindering a brand’s image. Here’s why brand authenticity matters more than ever:

Audience Trust through Brand Authenticity

Authentic brands align their values with their actions and communicate transparently with their audience. 90% of consumers said they’re looking for authenticity when deciding what brands they’ll support. They want brands to have real conversations about what’s happening in the world, but the same report shows that consumers believe less than half are doing it. And it’s having an impact.

\With the rise of social media and online reviews, any hint of inauthenticity can lead to backlash. The latest Gustavson Brand Trust study found that trust had declined for almost all brands. It discovered, “while trust in key institutions has been eroding significantly over the past few years, the average brand trust scores for all brands surveyed in 2020 are at an all-time low.” And it’s making consumers more conscious about what they buy and from whom. Consumers expect transparency and honesty from brands.

Authenticity fosters trust, loyalty, and long-term relationships with customers. Brands that stay true to their values stand out in a crowded marketplace. Building brand trust used to mean making a good product at a reasonable price,but nowadays, people want more. Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2020 found 64% of today’s customers are belief-driven buyers. They think brands “can be a powerful force for change,” and they use their wallets like votes to support the ones willing to take a stand.

Communities grow around Authenticity

Consumers need brand authenticity not just for trust, but for the community behind it — a way to identify themselves with a problem or a cause, whether global or local, and have real impact through the brands that stand for it. This is why it’s not just in brands’ best interest to maintain authenticity: it’s also a huge competitive advantage for companies looking to build connections and a bigger audience through their community.

According to Frontify’s article about Brand communities, these are groups of people that form around a brand simply because they love certain aspects of it. They share a passion for its culture & values that the brand promotes. Brands such as Lululemon Athletica & Nike have a community that enjoys the active lifestyle that these brands emanate, that transcends from being “just another active apparel company,” to a brand that promotes being the best version of oneself.

How to Build Brand Authenticity

While staying authentic can be challenging, it also presents opportunities for brands to differentiate themselves and build credibility. Leaning into the rising industries such as nano-influencer marketing, employee influencers, & user generated content (UCG) can help build trust with your audience. Choosing the right people to champion your brand can make or break their trust. Here are some ways to build authentic connections with authentic people:

  1. Utilize Nano-Influencers and Key Opinion Consumers

Relatable people such as nano-influencers and key opinion consumers (KOCs) can create relatable content for your brand. Unlike those with large followings, nano influencers share a close and personal connection with their followers. The meaningful engagement, paired with a reputation for being genuine, is why nano influencers are beginning to see a sudden surge in popularity, therefore a good way for a brand to build their authenticity. 

A previous campaign with the brand MOHS Diagnostics called “Time for a MOHS Test!” nano influencers were utilized. With 58.58% reach rate and 3.33% engagement rate (with a benchmark of 2.63% average engagement rate) on their campaign content posts, it was deemed successful, where the responses from their audiences prompted them to try out the products.

2. Market Your Brand Through Your Employees

According to Forbes, the people you’re looking for are literally right around the corner of your own office: utilizing your own employees as champions for your brand can be an effective way to create more empathic content. Employee networks have 10 times more connections than a company has followers on their pages, so why not utilize them? These connections are of better quality since human-to-human relationships are more trusted than an individual’s connection to a logo. Adweek’s 2020 study on B2B thought leadership impact study says that 76% of individuals say that they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than content shared by brands, while on Edelman’ B2B Thought Leadership study found that 59% of individuals agree that an organization thought leadership is a more trustworthy source for assessing a company’s ability more than their marketing material. One practical utilization of this strategy is Shopee’s recent February 2024 Valentines’ post on Facebook, where they featured a variety of their very own employees to shine during that day. 

Their engagement numbers on this post, which reached around approximately 12k engagements, are significantly higher than their usual content, with an overall positive feedback from their audience.

3. Explore User-Generated Content (UGC)

According to, User-Generated Content, or UGC for short, is the digital version of “word-of-mouth advertising”. In a world where people tend to trust other people rather than companies, this type of content mirrors the people’s personal authentic experience with a brand. They resonate well with the people since these people have nothing to gain on creating this type of content so they can see a glimpse of what it’s like to use their product or service. 

A study called 2022 State of User-Generated Content Report says that 72% of consumers trust peer reviews and customer testimonials more than the same brand messaging coming directly from a business, 76% of consumers have purchased a product because of someone else’s recommendations, and 75% of users say they’ll seek customer feedback before making a purchase. These shows clearly how UCG can create a more friendly and trusting relationship of a brand with their audience. 

A famous example of UCG content being used is Starbucks’s White Cup Contest during 2014. They invited their customers to decorate their own white starbucks cup, where a winner can get a 300 USD gift card and have their design printed on a reusable cup. This campaign got a massive wave of reshared posts of their own designed cup, increasing their organic reach. 

In 2024, authenticity isn’t just a trend; it’s a strategic imperative. Brands that prioritize authenticity can build stronger connections with consumers and thrive in the competitive digital landscape. 

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