The Secret to Brand Authenticity

Does your brand have a cause that it’s passionate about? Do you and your employees volunteer or support a cause in other ways? If so, are you communicating about it authentically? 

It can be easy to choose a cause that you’re passionate about, get your employees to rally behind it, and begin supporting it. It can be easy to slap a section on your website about your efforts and the fact that you support your cause, and it can even be easy to get your team to volunteer for an event once a year and think that’s enough. But the secret to brand authenticity when it comes to causes is making sure your cause is part of the foundation of everything you do, and that it’s communicated through all of your efforts. 

Why is brand authenticity so important? Because brand inauthenticity can damage your brand’s reputation. 

Consider Burger King. In May, they launched an “Unhappy Meals” campaign in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. The campaign featured “real meals” to show that it’s okay to not always be happy. It was smart, witty, and timely. It even took a stab at their competitors. But it lacked one crucial thing: authenticity. 

You see, Burger King has never before supported mental health, at least not publicly. Consumers were outraged by their blatant capitalization, saying that Burger King only claimed to support this cause because it was trending, not because it’s something they truly care about or advocate for. 

Whether you introduce an entire campaign in support of a cause or simply send out a social post acknowledging a cause, you’re opening the door for people to inspect your authenticity. 

You could argue that this is easier for brands like Toms, whose entire business model is founded upon a cause. But there are “regular” brands out there that are authentic in communicating their support of a cause and that do it very well. One of these brands happens to be one of our clients. 

The cause this company supports is cystic fibrosis, and I admire the way they remain authentic in everything they do in support. The founder and CEO has experienced firsthand the effects of cystic fibrosis, as his daughter was diagnosed when she was younger. It was a natural fit for the company. 

Today, the company rallies around this cause regularly. They walk together for a cure, they throw events, they do interviews with local news stations, and they even get others in the industry to come together to support the cause regardless of the fact that they might be competitors. 

They don’t wait until a celebrity posts about cystic fibrosis to talk about their cause, and they don’t wait until there’s a hashtag they can take over (like #mentalhealthawarenessmonth). They allow their passion and efforts to seep into everything they do. They talk about the cause. Just by interacting with their brand, you know what they’re passionate about. That way, if there’s a major breakthrough in cystic fibrosis research or if they come across a popular news story about the cause, it won’t seem ingenuine to post about it. 

This is what your brand’s goal should be if you claim to support a cause. 

You don’t have to be like Patagonia who gave away their $1 million dollar tax break to their cause last year, but you should make your passion known. Share some stories on social media to help your audience understand why this cause means so much to your brand. If possible, relate the cause to your industry. And if you have enough content, you can even make an entire page on your website about your cause and the efforts you and your employees take to support it. 

People trust brands that are genuine and authentic, and now more than ever, people want to see that brands are part of something bigger than their company. People want to buy products or services that they know will make a difference. And if supporting your brand means supporting a cause, they feel like they are making a difference. 

It can be tough to figure out how to weave your cause into your messaging, so if you’re curious about how to do this, reach out to us. We’d love to help you take your brand to the next level and achieve authenticity. 

Klaire Maxwell