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What is an authentic brand and how can you be one?

The values of authenticity, transparency and trust have become central to marketing strategies in recent decades.

Contemporary consumers are well informed, connected 24/7 and never hesitate to voice their opinions about brands and products they spend their hard-earned money on. 

  • 64% of buyers declare to be belief-driven and eager to switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stand on social values
  • 86 % of consumers declare that authenticity is the main differentiator leading to purchase. For Millennials this number reaches 90%.
  • 73% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product manufactured in a transparent way (with 94 % of declared brand loyalty). 

In this context, the values of authenticity, transparency and trust have become a sales argument for artisans and brands. 

Brands that come through as authentic, attract customers not only by offering excellent products or services but also by sharing their consumers’ values and by building an emotional bond with them. 

Following the last blog postLuxury brands after Covid- 19, 3 trends!, in this new article we share with you 5 useful tips and 2 examples to help your brand appear authentic in the eyes of your consumers. 

TIP # 1: The authenticity must permeate every aspect of a company’s life

The values of authenticity, transparency and trust are not to be taken lightly. If you wish your brand to be considered as authentic, any decision or action you take, must be taken in compliance with these values.  

In other words, your deepest convictions, the very reason why you created your brand in the first place, your brand’s DNA must be made central to anything you do: your design, manufacturing process, distribution, packaging, choice of suppliers. They all must reflect your brand’s core values. 

Being authentic means delivering a consistent message at each and every touchpoint consumers or prospects may have with your brand.

Simple advice 💡 : before taking any strategic, commercial or communication decision, ask yourself this question: “If I take this decision, will I still be in line with my core values and brand mission?”. If the answer is no, do not follow up, even if it might seem tempting!

TIP # 2: Authenticity is emboldened by your history

Share your brand story with your customers, it will not only give you a competitive edge, but it will also give your consumers something to believe in. The story however needs to be truthful even if magnified.  A skillful storytelling will help you bond with your community in a closer and more intimate way. 

You might have noticed that even well-known brands proudly refer to their origins with mentions like: “ANGELINA Paris since 1903”, “since 1792” (Maison Goyard), “Breguet since 1775”. 

Simple advice 💡 : if your brand happens to be family-owned for generations, do not hesitate to add a founding date, a long history warrants expertise and quality.

TIP # 3: Insist on the authenticity of your product

The good news is that in the eyes of most consumers, small, up-and-coming locally rooted artisanal brands and products come through as being authentic without much effort! Especially if they are low-tech, crafty or handmade

The origin of raw materials, the location of the manufacturing facility, the supply chain, all these elements have become inherent to purchase decisions. 

Being transparent about the origin of materials used, about the place the goods are manufactured…might help to tip the scales in your favor

The more engineered and high-tech your offer is the least likely it is to be perceived as authentic.

Simple advice 💡 : share the “behindthescenes” of your brand. “Open door” days, staging photos of your atelier, videos showing the skills required to manufacture each item… there are multiple ways to be transparent! 

Not only will you reassure your clients, but you will also reinforce your image of authenticity and display your craftsmanship. 

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TIP # 4: Be authentic with your branding!

Do not try to overstate or overpromise. 

Reach out to your customers with your genuine know-how, authentic specialty, as niche as it can be. If you are not yet up to 100 % of the standards you had set for your brand, be transparent about it: 

“We are making our best efforts to source 100 % natural origin, ‘Made in France’ packaging but we have not yet found a supplier entirely up to our standards.”

You will be rewarded by your customers’ trust and loyalty

An artisanal brand is not meant to appeal to a large pool of customers, focus on targeting your community that shares your interests and values. 

A skillful use of SOCIAL MEDIA will help you to create a meaningful connection and an emotional bond with your community.

Simple advice  💡 : ask your community their opinion, make them part of your development plan (why would you not try to query your customers about products they would wish to see in your upcoming collection, for example), and keep the dialogue open. 

TIP # 5: The authenticity is in the substance… and in the appearance!

You cannot underestimate the power of first impressions and just a few seconds are enough to form a first judgement. This first image will determine the consumer’s perception of your brand. 

Therefore, it is crucial that your visual identity reflects the values of your brand. The choice of a logo, of company colors or fonts is not to be taken lightly. 

Do not pick green just because you are fond of this color. Green is associated with the words organic, natural or eco-friendly. For luxury, prefer black and white. 

A mistake in the choice of a color chart may mislead your customers as to what your brand has to offer. 

Simple advice 💡 : unless you are a graphic designer, turn to others for help! You may refer to our article Create a coherent and effective visual identity in 4 steps.

Two examples of successful authentic brands

To illustrate my words, I will share with you examples of 2 clothing companies, both considered authentic and believable despite their difference in scale, positioning and target consumer

PATAGONIA, a worldwide lifestyle brand offering high end technical clothing for outdoor activities.

From the moment it was created, PATAGONIA made it crystal clear that their mission statement is to make long-lasting, well designed, versatile clothes causing as little harm as possible to the planet. 

And from day one, PATAGONIA remains faithful to its core values through diverse initiatives ranging from renewable energy programs or the management of chemicals and environmental impacts of their global supply chain through rewarding employees that share their drive to work with co-workers to donating 1% of its sales value to grassroots environmental groups around the world

PATAGONIA also offers diverse circular fashion solutions to make their clothes last as long as possible, proposing to have your old clothes repaired or upcycled instead of pushing new sales. 

PATAGONIA is considered an authentic brand as in every action it stands for its values and thus attracts like-minded consumers. 

MAISON STANDARDS, sustainable fashion brand, founded in Paris in 2013, combining restraint consumption with a reasonably timeless approach to fashion.

Indeed, MAISON STANDARDS offers a limited collection of perfectly made, timeless wardrobe staples in neutral hues crafted in natural and noble yarns and fabrics. Clients are invited to co-create. 

The brand is transparent about its costs, margins, prices and its supply chain respectful of human rights. 

MAISON STANDARDS comes through as a brand that is authentic, honest and committed to its core values.

To summarize, to be an authentic brand and gain the trust of your consumers, you simply need to: 

  • Be transparent about your sourcing practices and your supply chain. Traceability is key to your customers’ trust. 
  • Keep the dialogue open with your customers. In crisis, provide clear answers and take customer feedback into account. Creating a bond with your community will earn you compelled and loyal customers.
  • Be consistent with your branding. Make sure your brand values are in line with your brand mission and the product you deliver.  

“Truly” authentic brands should not encounter any issues with delivering a consistent message to their customers. At each touchpoint, the brand message should reflect the brand’s deepest convictions, be true to the brand’s DNA and it must come from the depth of the brand’s heart. 

Céline Gainsburg-Rey


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