By Patricia Rivera

In an era marked by fleeting trends and superficialities, the quest for authenticity has emerged as a guiding light for brands seeking to forge meaningful connections with consumers. 

Like the Velveteen Rabbit in the timeless tale by Margery Williams Bianco who asks, “What is real?” brands (and people) long to understand the essence of being real. That’s why Merriam-Webster declared “authenticity” its 2023 word of the year. 

The essence of authenticity

Authenticity isn’t a buzzword or a marketing tactic. It’s the cornerstone of building genuine relationships and driving sustainable business growth. It’s about more than just presenting a polished façade—it’s about aligning a brand’s actions, values, and messaging with its true identity.

Authenticity serves as a beacon of trust and reliability. Consumers, now more than ever, seek brands that resonate with them on a deeper level, embodying integrity, transparency, and a genuine commitment to their values.

According to Stackla research, 90 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. More than 70 percent of consumers said they spend more on authentic brands.

Market research firm Breakthrough Research surveyed 5,000 people and tested 100 brands in 20 categories for its “2023 Brand Authenticity Report.”

The most authentic brands revealed better financial performance based on better stock market results, faster growth, more extensive and stronger communities, and the perception of quality products.

Aligning values and actions 

Breakthrough Research measured authenticity on three pairs of concepts. 

• What brands do versus what they say 

• Brands’ private versus public actions 

• Brands’ actions versus values 

Authentic brands have alignment in what they do, say, and believe. 

The research found that the most successful brands are ethical, wholesome, and relatable and prioritize high-quality products and services and accessible pricing.

They also treat their customers well, own up to their mistakes, and care about the social impact of their business. 

Three steps to nurturing authenticity

Branding guru Bernadette Jiwa, author of “Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly,” states that meaningful brands start life as a set of unfulfilled expectations, a moment of frustration, or a feeling of helplessness.

“You breathe new meaning into your brand by finding ways to fulfill those expectations and make life easier for the people you serve,” Jiwa explains. When you’re clear on your purpose, everything else falls into place. 

1. Clarity and consistency: Authenticity for brands is also about being real: defining core values, a mission, and a vision that resonate with both internal and external stakeholders. Brands must embody their values in every interaction, ensuring consistency across all touchpoints.

2. Genuine engagement: Brands must foster open dialogue by actively listening to and engaging with their audience. Communicating does not only mean informing customers; it also means developing conversations in places your clients frequent. 

3. Real storytelling: Brands can leverage real stories and diverse voices to elevate universal truths and foster meaningful connections. Remember that your clients are the heroes in your brand story as they reach a transformation, big or small, through their engagement with your organization. 

The strategic imperative

In a world often fixated on surface-level attributes, authenticity serves as a reminder to seek deeper connections—with ourselves and others. Authenticity isn’t always glamorous; it can be raw and challenging, yet it’s in this authenticity that authentic connections thrive. Velveteen Rabbit’s fellow toy Skin Horse wisely noted, authenticity involves a transformation: “Once you become real, you can’t become unreal. It lasts for always.” 

Want to learn more about developing authentic messages and campaigns? Visit to schedule a discovery call.