Want to Learn the Key to Raving Fans for Your Brand? Authenticity!

February 28th, 2020 by Will Scott

Brand authenticity is in the eye of the beholder. It’s easy to see when a person or a brand is inauthentic, but it’s not as easy to put one’s finger on what actually is authentic.

When actions don’t match words, it’s easy to see the inauthenticity. Boeing, for instance, previously a vanguard of quality, recently covered up a very deadly error. Milli Vanilli, right?

I can point to a small handful of brands that strike me as truly authentic. Two, in particular, are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Burger King

Burger King, the #2 burger, has done a great job of using humor to demonstrate their brand ethos.

Their mascot is creepy, no doubt. The head of the King used in their commercials and advertising is weird and discomforting.

Instead of treating this and the associated press as a problem requiring management, Burger King humorously embraces the freaky King as an authentic representation of their brand. And, they do it while embracing other brands and current events to enhance their relevance.

Take, for example, Burger King taking McDonald’s head-on in a Halloween-themed commercial with the tagline “Come as a clown, eat like a king.” Or, the pantomime King’s first words, a throwback to a classic Budweiser commercial “Whassup”?

Man with Burger King hat with burger and Budweiser attached and woman drinking soda

More recently, Burger King Argentina reached out to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they seek to step back from their royal duties with an offer of a different source of income.

As you can see, these are humorous and on-brand with a consistency that’s lasted a decade or more.

I mean, come on, “Cheetos Chicken Fries!?”

Picky Bars

On a very different scale is a small sports nutrition brand in Bend, Oregon called Picky Bars.

Picky Bars is the brainchild of three current and former professional athletes, two of whom are husband-and-wife team Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas. Fleshman is a former professional runner and Thomas a former professional Ironman triathlete. For this brand, authenticity is apparent in their relationship and their sporting credentials.

The two produce a weekly podcast called Work, Play, Love, where they talk about their lives, their kids, and their respective business ventures. There are moments when you feel like you just walked into a dinner party where the hosts are uncomfortably tense, having just finished a big argument. Lauren and Jesse both talk about their challenges with their kids, childcare, and the not-so-glamorous parts of their entrepreneurial adventures.

Jesse Thomas posing in front of I Love Carbs bumper sticker

It’s educational, funny, and sometimes sad, but very, very real.

As a vehicle for getting to really know the minds behind the products, the podcast format is great.

And, they’re equally transparent about the business, as exemplified in Jesse’s 2019 Year in Review blog post, which is a study in brand authenticity.

Beyond the podcast and blog, Jesse’s humor shows through in the marketing for Picky Bars, particularly on Instagram.

Jesse takes part in sporting events wearing an inflatable dinosaur costume he calls Barosaurus. In one of their more popular videos, Jesse places an I (heart) Carbs bumper sticker onto his car, which is immediately driven away by the couple’s pre-schooler.

Pickybars owners posing in the Barosaurus costume at a race
Original Instagram Post

While these are very different examples, each is authentic in its own way, ultimately making us feel as though the brand or, in the case of Picky Bars, the founders are speaking to us directly.

Capturing brand authenticity in marketing is a great way to build brand awareness and trust, but consumers often don’t appreciate when it feels forced. Finding this delicate balance is often a challenge as businesses create their brand voice. The marketing professionals at Search Influence can create advertising campaigns that capture your brand voice and showcase your products and services in a way that speaks to your customers in an effective way. Start a conversation today to learn how we can optimize your potential.


Burger King