Brands Are About Authenticity: Don’t Fake It

Brands Are About Authenticity: Don’t Fake It


  1. Brands Are About Authenticity—Don’t fake it! Consumer experience doesn’t lie. If a brand doesn’t present a valued and credible brand experience, it’s ultimately damaging for the brand.
  2. Radiant Blog: Building a Brand on Breaking Bad That’s what Albuquerque is doing—and it works.
  3. Radiant Work: REBRANDING AN ICON—Mendocino Brewing flagship products RadiantBrands redesigned the packaging for the Mendocino Brewing Company, founded in 1983 and one of the original craft brewers in the United States.


Brands Are About Authenticity – Don’t fake it!

Consumer experience doesn’t lie. If a brand doesn’t present a valued and credible brand experience, it’s ultimately damaging for the brand. The drivers behind brand positioning are sometimes not about customer experience but about convincing folks to buy. At the end of the day this is a short-lived tactic, not a real brand strategy. How much can you change positioning or engage in unsustainable tactics such as changing pricing to get sales without losing loyal customers?

When brands are driven only by sales

The management of large brands, such as the chain Olive Garden (owned by Darden Restaurant Group), often focuses on the bottom line to please their investors and shareholders. Olive Garden’s strategy was to fit into a “category” of dining rather than what they claimed to be about: authentic Italian cuisine. According to a recent survey, 47% of respondents think Olive Garden does not offer quality authentic Italian food. While Olive Garden portrays itself as offering such, this is actually far from the truth. The hard reality is that nothing they make is based on Italian recipes.

The Olive Garden disaster14-10_logo-OG
A presentation by a buyout group highlighted many of the restaurant’s practices to increase profitability: Olive Garden did not prioritize salting its pasta water in order to extend their warranties on pots and pans; they pushed breadsticks and other refreshments as appetizers; and they promoted the items that draw customers in for a cheap meal. In short, the restaurant did not take action on their brand promise of offering a good Italian food experience.

The result is a company in a competitive slide with no vision other than maximizing the bottom line. And so, the brand has shifted from one food strategy to another without success, since it lacks an authentic voice. What’s the brand promise of Olive Garden? Is it more bread sticks? Managing brands by focusing only on cost cutting and merchandising techniques drives companies and products to the lowest common denominator – sales offers, discounts, and constant couponing. This does not build a valued brand.

Whole Foods Market and Starbucks: Brands with a mission and a promise14-10_logo-WF
Although many folks may view Whole Foods as too expensive or Starbucks as a mega chain, each has a loyal customer base that spans the country, if not the world. Both brands understand that their employees are their top brand ambassadors. Whole Foods and Starbucks both focus on core values, and their employees in turn communicate those values to their customers. This  gives the brands stable, lasting value that provides a structure for tactics involving price and product.

A brand’s real competitive advantage
Ultimately, a brand’s real value is what it can stand for. How this authenticity and value permeates through the company, from manufacturing to customer interaction and service, will define the relationship the brand has with customers. Brands can’t be way outside their category in pricing, but consumers have consistently shown they are willing to pay more for authenticity and the value they expect and desire.

Whether you’re a Starbucks employee or a Detroit car producer, you can’t say you are what you’re not. To position yourself effectively, you must connect to and deliver what’s real and valued for your customers. They know who you are and you can’t fake it.

Building brand authenticity: Living the brand’s promise

It’s essential at all levels to create a clear focus on what you stand for, and what that means to the brand—for those working for it and to the customer.
• Who are you?
• What makes your brand culture unique?
• What needs do you fulfill that others don’t?
• What makes your customers love your brand?

This is imperative. Without defining your customers, understanding what matters to them, and what they value, how can your purpose be true and relevant to them?
• Define who your customers are, their personas, age, lifestyle
• What common needs do they have?
• What else is culturally relevant to them?

This is probably the most vital aspect of “being your brand”. By having every employee from the top down to those on the street engage consumers through your values, you impart who you are with every customer connection.
• Build a training program
• Formalize the brand internally in all daily actions
• Recognize brand heroes in the company

Look at customer engagement, ask for feedback from customers, and use these metrics to identify where you can do better. And, most of all don’t “pretend” who you are to customers. They know it and employees know it.
• Constantly get feedback from customers at all levels
• Make the brand live through interactions at all points in the business

New Radiant Work:


RadiantBrands Re-launches Mendocino Brewing flagship products


RadiantBrands redesigned the packaging for the Mendocino Brewing Company, founded in 1983 and one of the original craft brewers in the United States. Radiant was engaged to redesign their flagship beers, Red Tail Amber Ale and Eye of the Hawk Imperial Ale. The vibrant new graphics incorporate enhanced versions of the classic hawk icons that beer enthusiasts have come to associate with Mendocino Brewing Company. The iconic hawks set against a bright textured background create greater shelf visibility and suggest Mendocino’s craft brewing heritage.

This history and commitment is expressed in the company’s new tagline, also developed by RadiantBrands: “Experience the Original; NorCal Craft Ales Since 1983.”

• Branding
• Package Design
• PR and Media