John Grant - “Authenticity is the benchmark against which all brands are judged.” 

What more and more people are seeking from the brands they choose to do any kind of business with, is the somewhat foggy ideal of ‘authenticity’. What does it even mean to be authentic? The post-modern way of thinking has totally changed the meaning of the concept.

With our lives broadcasted online via the myriad of social media platforms we frequent daily, some shifts have occurred in the way authenticity is perceived. Scrolling through our news feed or home page, we are fed idealised and carefully curated images of our friends, acquaintances, and strangers, often lending ourselves to the misconception that others’ online facades match their ‘real life’ personas. We swipe and click our way through somebody’s profile and conclude that we know enough about them to cast judgement.  

This has prompted a society obsessed with individuality, and simultaneously unsure of what that even means. So, what does this mean for authenticity? And what do people mean when they demand authenticity from brands and businesses?

An international team of researchers concluded in The Journal of Consumer Psychology that brand authenticity can be determined through a 15-point scale – the ‘Perceived Brand Authenticity (PBA_ Scale’.  The scale helps to demist the confusing idea of proper authenticity in the landscape of businesses. It measures four elements to make deductions about authenticity - credibility, integrity, symbolism, and continuity.

Let’s take a deeper look into the scale. Determining how accurately the following 15 statements describe your brand, determines how ‘authentic’ your brand ought to be perceived by your consumers.

 

Credibility:

A brand that will not betray you

a brand that accomplishes its value promise

an honest brand

 

Integrity:

a brand that gives back to its consumers;

a brand with moral principles;

 a brand true to a set of moral values;

 a brand that cares about its consumer

 

Symbolism:

a brand that adds meaning to people’s lives

a brand that reflects important values people care about

a brand that connects people with what is really important

a brand that connects people with their real selves

 

Continuity:

a brand with a history

a timeless brand

a brand that survives time

a brand that survives trends

 

Authenticity matters to consumers, because they want to choose brands they feel represent and validate who they are.  As Paul Marsden of SYZYGY puts it: ‘By buying brands with brand authenticity, we are saying something about our personal authenticity’.

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