Want to know the  key to creating an authentic brand? It’s simpler than you might thing. It’s pairing your brand’s messaging to fit your audience.

Cohn & Wolfe puts together a list of what they call the top 100 authentic brands, and this is the one trait they share above all others.

This isn’t just case of Disney’s excitable basic language vs. Rolex’s formal sophisticated content. It’s the whole brand, from the words and imagery used to how their audience is engaged.

Nailing the Right Visual Identity

The thought that has gone into the visual identities of these 100 brands is clear to see. Browse the websites or social media pages of these brands and you’ll typically notice a similar color scheme throughout. The demographic of the models they use and the emotions they portray remain consistent. These brands connect to the masses by appealing to a specific demographic so accurately – and imagery is one of the most powerful ways to do this. Check the Hershey’s and L’Oréal Instagram pages for inspiration.

Finding a classic stock image on these websites is like searching for a needle in a proverbial online haystack. These brands are all willing to pour money into professional photo shoots for every piece of content they put out. They understand the importance of remaining authentic to their visual identity.

If you’re a smaller brand without the marketing budget to hire a professional photographer, there are still ways to nail consistent visual branding.

For starters, if you’re going to use stock photos, source them from an authentically-styled collection. There are plenty of free options online which offer stunning images from professional photographers.

Tweak and edit these images with your brand’s choice of filters, text, and cropping and you’ll be well on your way to creating a professional-looking visual identity.

User-Generated Content

A large selection of these brands in the top 100 have published user-generated content as part of their marketing campaigns. It’s a great strategy to engage your audience, portray yourself as a ‘people-first’ business, and show off the range of people that love your brand.

One of the most memorable examples of this is Apple’s ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign. While the iPhone has always sold well, it was beginning to get a reputation for having a sub-quality camera compared to its immediate rivals.

Apple addressed this by improving the camera on the iPhone 6 – and getting the message of these improvements across by splashing incredible photos taken by users onto huge billboards in major cities like London, Dubai and Paris. It was only at this time that the tech company joined Instagram. This launch encouraged iPhone users all over the world to engage with the hashtag #ShotoniPhone. The campaign has been replicated for the iPhone 7 too. It works well because people like proof not promises. These photos taken by normal people helped build trust in Apple’s camera, as well as creating utilizing all the other benefits of user-generated content.

User-generated content makes your customers feel more like a community and that’s a core factor for anyone trying to create an authentic brand.

Pay More Attention to your Brand’s Messaging

Authenticity is key for any brand. People buy from business that are trustworthy and share the same morals as them. If you’re not making people feel this way about your brand, you’re fighting an uphill battle from the very start.

Take a look at your language, imagery, and efforts to engage with your audience. Does this resonate with your target audience as well as it could? If not, a revamp of your marketing strategy might be in order. 

Tyler Walch leads Product Growth for and is a huge fan of everything media. He’s your guy for everything from geeking out on marketing tactics, to trading photography tips, sharing your latest new music finds and chatting about Netflix’s latest original series.

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