Authenticity rules in digital marketing

Brand authenticity describes the extent to which a brand is faithful toward itself. In this article, we do a deep dive into what it means to build an authentic brand.  Read it to learn what you can do to amplify your marketing success by telling the truth about who and what you are.

3-Minute read

Ian C Tomlin

The background

The real you

Genuine messages and ideas resonate more powerfully with people. Buyers today want to buy the ‘authentic you.’ They don’t want a trumped-up vision of the global mega-corporation that you’re not.

Cohn & Wolfe run a study on the impact of brand authenticity on buying behaviors annually. According to their analysis, 91% of customers value honesty in the companies from which they buy products and services and 63% of customers choose authentic brands over those that aren’t as transparent.

Authenticity is difficult to get right, particularly for smaller businesses that know their opportunity to compete may be hampered by their size. There remains a bias in large companies to want to deal with other large companies. Sometimes, there exists a false reality that larger companies are more robust and resilient to external market impacts than newer, smaller ones.  None of these myths are actually supported by any significant evidence or truth in the real world, but that’s not untypical of bias.

You might think that fabricating a bigger version of yourself is a better approach to marketing your business but I disagree.  Social media has a habit of ‘outing’ untruths.  And we live in an era of reviews, recommendations, and social proof.  As a general rule, in today’s business arena, it pays to be what you are and who you are.

Want more customer?  Be the business you are, not the brand you want to be.

Authenticity builds trust, and trust matters in marketing

The reason you should be interested in the authenticity of your brand is because sales is all about a trust bond between a buyer and seller. Fail to satisfy your buyer that your business can be trusted to deliver on its brand promise and your relationship won’t last—it may not even begin!

Eighty-six percent of people say authenticity matters when deciding what brands they like and support.

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Transparency means doing the right things in your business

Buyers like transparency. They like to know the sort of people and the type of company they’re dealing with.

At Newton Day, we expose the goodness of our team and our culture to our customers. In some respects, it’s a part of our services to help businesses to improve how they work and communicate internally to help them to be more authentic. It’s tough to build a marketing platform based on authenticity WHEN YOU DON’T do it.

Appreciate, we’re a small team, but we like to promote our business through the perspectives of what it’s like to work at Newton Day, and HOW we work together as a remote but extremely solid and socially connected team.

We’ve DESIGNED our methods and tools to make the new reality of extended working work for us. We’re happy to share our policies and procedures with clients, our onboarding training and tools, how we manage daily scrums with our teams, how we mentor and coach our people to be better versions of themselves. All of these aspects of our business pass on value to our clients, or should I say, our customer partners.

Exposing the real you in your marketing

The opportunity to promote brand personality on websites is relatively constrained by the formulaic content design expectations of buyers. When they arrive on a landing page, they want you to get to the point—there’s little opportunity to broadcast your goodness.

Brand authenticity is a good marketing investment

It’s not possible these days to expect marketers to add ‘lipstick to a pig’ and expect it to persuade buyers.

With the shift in the climate for marketing, it seems clear to me that the way to keep a consistent flow of sales leads and satisfy your current customers is to build a deeper relationship with your community.

Ask yourself:
1.  Are you fully leveraging your communities of interest?
2.  Do know the size of your passive, active and actionable audiences?
3.  Do you have a strategy to WIN in the battle for communities?

If you don’t have the answers to these questions, you need to get moving with your circular marketing agenda. Otherwise, your competitors will be stealing your lunch in 2024.

picture of man with mask

The best version of your business is the real one

Our checklist for promoting brand authenticity

What can you do to expose your personality?  Here are some ideas:

#1 Share your values

Describe what your brand stands for. Buyers like to know what drives the business, the common purpose that binds the team together. They’re also keen to learn about the altruistic aspects of what your business is about.

#2 Share your team

Customers like to meet the people behind your brand. While you can always profile your team with profile pics on your site, when you have the opportunity, it’s better to invest a bit more time in capturing the authentic personalities behind the images.

#3 Share your out-of-work team interests and activities

Away days and out of office activities are a great opportunity to show the world that there are real human beings behind your business doing extraordinary teams. Why not support your colleagues to help them pursue their ambitions—whether its academic pursuits, a sponsored jog or a rock climbing in Asia—and share their stories?

#4 Share your sponsoring and volunteering activities

If your team is investing time in fund raising or committing time to charities and local community activities, these are topics that customers are genuinely interested in.

#5 Be the type of company you say that you are

The most important activity in brand authenticity is BEING the company you describe to your customers. It’s no good saying you work in a particular way when you don’t. Worse still, you might get found out. Online platforms like Glassdoor are full to the brim on negative stories about brands that don’t look after their people, even when they say they do. It takes very little bad press from online reviews and opinion pieces to destroy brand reputation. Don’t cut corners, do the right thing and build a brand you can be proud of.

Ian Tomlin

Ian Tomlin


Ian Tomlin is a marketer, entrepreneur, business leader and management consultant. His passion is to help make great ideas happen. Relentlessly optimistic about the potential of technology for good, Ian’s 30+ year career has focused around the intersect of strategy, technology and marketing. He writes on subjects including enterprise computing and organizational design. He also works as a consultant and advisor to the executive teams of PrinSIX Technologies, Answer Pay and INTNT.AI, helping to rethink their marketing in order to tell their brand story.

Ian has founded a series of successful businesses including NDMC Ltd (2003), Encanvas (2006), and Newton Day Ltd (2019). He has written books, articles and guides on brand, digital transformation, enterprise applications, data science, workforce management, and organizational design. He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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