Brand authenticity stems from a brand’s true story. From content creators to brand ambassadors, authentic storytelling to connect with audiences and consumers continues to gain momentum.
While luxury brands like Lancôme and Dior still use A-list celebrities to advertise their products, some brands are choosing more relatable brand ambassadors with less star power and more neighbor-next-door appeal. These are brands that consider building trust with their audiences and fostering genuine connections among those with shared values. An example is how Dove uses authentic stories of women who aren’t recognizable models or celebrities to inspire and empower women and girls.
What is brand authenticity and why does it resonate with audiences? Millennials and Gen Z are currently the largest consumer segments. They seek transparency in brands, and their influence is shaping the landscape. They are drawn to influencers who talk candidly about genuine experiences and who possess a sense of social responsibility. More consumers are supporting brands that reflect these values.
Empowering Brands Through Authentic Storytelling
In this landscape, authentic influencer marketing can potentially propel a brand from obscurity to viral status. Why? Well, it’s relatable. Many of us don’t identify with perfection because it’s unattainable and the pursuit of it can be exhausting. Show us someone who struggles as we do. We connect with those who share the same victories and challenges, joys and fears. In layman’s language, authenticity looks like someone who presents themselves or shares their story without a filter. They show themselves completely, even their insecurities and imperfections, and that endears them to us. When we see someone who looks like they could be our bestie promoting a brand that they say is ethical, trustworthy, and even helps them feel better or become a better person, then we may be more likely to give the product a try.
So, if your brand sells women’s fashion, what resonates better with the average woman—an unblemished runway model or an actual working mom who has tough days and needs reminders to practice self-care?
If your company wants to increase employee engagement, who resonates better—a spokesperson from human resources or an employee who struggled initially in the same job you’re doing, but found success through persistence and hard work?
Will a future employee be more likely to come work for you if they see themselves in the people who are already in your industry?
Fewer consumers identify with perceived perfection or scripted insincerities. Brands must embrace authenticity and transparency to succeed.
Here are three ways we’ve helped clients use storytelling to build brand authenticity and to better connect with their consumers and employees.
Walmart World, Associates as Influencers
An associate who was once homeless, but their store manager saw their potential and nurtured his desire to work.
A working mom balances career and kids, but it’s her kids who motivate her to excel at work. An immigrant who arrived in the U.S. with very little money but a whole lot of ambition and the willingness to learn and work hard.
We shared these Walmart associate stories and more, but additionally, associates told their own stories through their personal and store social media channels. They shared tips on Instagram about how to create eye-catching seasonal displays or provide better customer service. Our goal was to help increase their visibility to inspire other associates to excel. By showing them the successes of their peers, they could see that the formula for their own success wasn’t that complicated. Walmart ambassadors continue to inspire their peers. You can see some of their impact on LinkedIn at #WalmartSocialChamps.
No Nonsense, Real Women to Inspire
Beth is a mom, tattoo artist and yoga practitioner. She’s also living with metastatic breast cancer.
Camelia started making natural shea butter products to help treat her child’s skin conditions. Now she has a successful business and is a model for other aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Keisha is a mother, a grandmother, a mental health therapist and an author. But her proudest accomplishment is overcoming anxiety and learning how to set boundaries.
They are all No Nonsense women whose stories we’ve shared to help promote the women’s clothing brand, which continues to inspire women through the stories of authentic ambassadors. The women model the latest products while talking about how they’ve risen above challenges and reached self-acceptance. You can also see more real women’s stories on Instagram @benononsense.
Hospitality Pros Dish on Their Careers
Everyone knows that hospitality took an enormous hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact continues to affect the industry. We recently helped the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association launch Serving Careers, a campaign to bring people back into the industry. Whether you’re someone who left hospitality and is considering a return, or you’re looking for a new job with opportunities to grow and advance, the campaign shows that you can have a successful career in this industry.
We illustrate this with the real stories of hotel and restaurant pros who found their career paths in hospitality. Some of them even found redemption and became better versions of themselves through the industry. Their poignant storytelling is honest and moving. Steven Goff, the chef and owner of Tastee Diner in Asheville, talks about how restaurants helped him find a home, a successful career—and himself—despite his past incarceration and struggles with drug addiction.
They share candid experiences of tough lessons learned, too. Justin Ard, the front of house manager at Tastee Diner, talks about burnout and how he learned to set healthy boundaries. Pastry chef Tie Whittaker, who operates her own boutique bakery (@buttermilk_boutique), learned that once she stopped trying to bake like everyone else, she could tell her own story and celebrate her own creativity through pastry.
Everyday People as Brand Storytellers
Whether you’re pitching insurance, a beauty product or a career, brands that use everyday people or their own customers and employees—rather than celebrities—are connecting with audiences more authentically. Our agency is passionate about the power of authentic storytelling with brands like Truist, Pepsi and Verizon. It’s even in our tagline—Story Inspired Results. So the next time you’re launching a new campaign, consider that your best ambassadors may be right alongside you.