We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: A brand is only as strong as its story. Especially in the pandemic-meets-endemic world we’re living in.

But once you find your “in,” find your story, how do you prove your intentions are good?

That’s where the real work begins.

Consumers are smarter than ever, and they can sense when there’s more marketing than meaning in the content they see. They’re also doing a lot more of their own research before they make a buying decision–one in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. That’s 5%!

How can you make sure the right people are finding you? And when they find you, how can you make sure your brand resonates with them?

The key? Authenticity.

Eighty-six percent of consumers cite authenticity as the most important factor in deciding which brands to support.

Easier said than done. At a time when socio-cultural awareness is being most demanded, consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of advertising that pulls the levers of social issues.

Not only do you need to have a compelling story. You have to mean it.

A recent study found that “consumers are not seeing the societal impact they expect from brands.” More than half of participants surveyed agreed that too many brands use societal issues “as a marketing ploy to sell more of their product.” Additionally, the study found that consumers overwhelmingly believe that brands have a responsibility to use their platforms for good—to get involved in social issues that don’t increase their bottom line.

This means that not only do you need to have a compelling story, you have to mean it. And remember—your story is not your business problem. Your story is your brand promise in action.

And let’s be honest: It’s probably pretty safe to say that almost NO brands are fully prepared to push their promises so far and so fast. So, just know that this is something you’ll need to take seriously and advocate for at the highest levels of your organization.

Your story is your brand promise in action.

What does an authentic story look like?

Authenticity has many ways of showing up and showing out. It all depends on where you’re ready to take a stand or claim a cause. So what can authenticity look like?

What does an authentic story do?

Aligning your brand promise, your mission and your market with a cause or occasion that resonates with both your employees and your consumers is a surefire way to show up as a genuine and honest company.

People like to feel good about what they buy. They like to know their money is going toward something bigger than the product or solution they get in return. People also like to feel good about where they work. They like to know that they’re serving a purpose beyond making a profit.

The right story will draw not only more folks to make purchasing decisions, but will bring more like-minded people into the fold of the business.

People like to know their money is going toward something bigger than the product or solution they get in return.

How can your company do this?

If you’re shopping for an agency who can build a website, create an ad campaign, or develop your brand identity, take a moment to consider whether you’ve really got a killer, authentic story to bring to the table. If not, find a partner who can help you get one.

And if you’re thinking to yourself “we don’t have the budget for that,” let us ask: What’s your budget for creative that doesn’t work?