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What is Brand Authenticity and What Does it Mean for your Business?

By Christine Hazel 14 Mar 2019
What is Brand Authenticity and What Does it Mean for your Business?

In the course of running your business, you may or may not have encountered the term ‘brand authenticity’ so you may or may not realise its impact on your business. Is the brand you buy or commit to (or the reputation you’re projecting) authentic? And what on earth is ‘authenticity’ anyway?

Through a 15-point scale called the Perceived Brand Authenticity Scale (PBA Scale) published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology by global  researchers from 4 universities:
(a) University Lausanne (Switzerland)
(b) The University of Bern (Switzerland)
(c)l’Université du Québec (Canada)
(d) University of Concordia (Canada)

What does brand authenticity’ pertain to? The global research team responsible for creating the Perceived Brand Authenticity scale conducted extensive research. In so doing, they managed to come up with a less ambiguous idea of brand authenticity. They turned this idea into a simple and concise definition.

Brand Authenticity as Perceived

The researchers defined brand authenticity as:

The extent to which consumers perceive a brand to be faithful toward itself, true to its consumers, motivated by caring and responsibility, and able to support consumers in being true to themselves

There are 4 key elements of perceived brand authenticity based on the definition above:

(1) Continuity (brand is self-sustaining and speaks for itself),
(2) Credibility (honest and does not create false hopes for consumers),
(3) Integrity (anchored on empathy, responsiveness and responsibility)
(4) Symbolism (brings out the best in consumers; gives value to them)

These four components make up the entirety of the authenticity concept. It is also far more than a simple than other supposedly unbiased attributes and definitions. Authenticity per se has psychological, emotional, personal and metaphorical implications as well. When authentic brands reflect our personal values and what we stand for, the notion is that we also connect with our true selves.

Is Your Company’s Brand Authentic?

The best way to answer this question is to ask consumers to rate your brand through the 15-question PBA scale. You can give ratings from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

[Although the researchers proposed measuring responses for practicality’s sake, just add the scores to generate results and compare performance. Highest possible score is not more than 105].

Perceived Brand Authenticity Scale

The scale has 7 points as aforementioned. Additionally, it seeks to find out to what extent you agree or disagree with the following:

[NAME OF BRAND] feedback

1. Brand/company history
2. Brand transcends time
3. Brand adaptability
4. Brand’s immunity to trends

5. Trustworthiness of brand
6. A brand that delivers what it promises
7. Overall brand honesty

8. Brand’s responsiveness to consumers
9. Commitment to moral principles
10. Moral values espoused
11. Brand is responsible 

12. Brand changes consumers’ lives for the better
13. Brand represents personal consumer values
14. Brand brings out the best in people
15. Brand lets consumers see what is important

* 7 = Strongly Agree, 6 = Agree, 5 = Somewhat agree, 4 = Neither agree nor disagree, 3 = Somewhat disagree, 2 = Disagree, 1 = Strongly Disagree

Why Is Brand Authenticity Important?

In initial research with consumers, the developers of the PBA Scale have used the scale to successfully validate the belief among marketers that brand authenticity is a driver of brand choice. Brand authenticity does matter because it puts your business out there. It’s your engine for success. It drives sales.

And from a psychological point of view, this is very sensible. Moreover, in a world where brands help reduce buying risks, consumers are getting their money’s worth. Moreover, we can better express ourselves, connect with products that address our needs and manage our image.

Finally, brand authenticity is important because we want to be our authentic selves. We want brands that allow us to be the best versions of ourselves. By purchasing tried and tested brands, we are also making a personal statement. We are declaring our own personal authenticity.