Authenticity constantly requires reinforcement, and it can come from a number of sources: craftsmanship, timeliness, relevance. But it is a brand’s values–the emotional connection it makes–that truly define its realism. And there are four primary strands that draw out that connection:

A sense of place. “Authenticity comes from a place we can connect with,” says Steve McCallion, creative director of Ziba, a Portland, Oregon–based design consultancy. “A place with a story.”

A strong point of view. Authenticity also emerges from “people with a deep passion for what they are doing,” says McCallion.

Serving a larger purpose. Consumers quite rightly believe, until they’re shown otherwise, that every brand is governed by an ulterior motive: to sell something. But if a brand can convincingly argue that its profit-making is only a by-product of a larger purpose, authenticity sets in.

Integrity. Authenticity comes to a brand that is what it says it is. In other words, “the story that the brand tells through its actions aligns with the story it tells through its communications,” Hardison says. “Only then will customers sense that the brand’s story is true.”

By Bill Breen.

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