How to Measure Brand Authenticity
If you have been tasked with the job of measuring “brand authenticity,” you probably noticed what a messy conceptual world you are now in. The idea of brand authenticity makes sense, but all the vague and competing definitions proffered by consultants surely makes your job harder.
In comes market research to the rescue! A professor at the University of Southern California led a team with two other marketing-professor colleagues to identify six valid and reliable, measurable components of brand authenticity. They started with qualitative research, and then conducted a consumer survey to refine and validate the components across 17 types of consumption experiences.
Summarizing from their published research, here are the six components you should measure in any survey of brand authenticity:
- Accuracy — To what extent is the provider perceived as transparent in how it represents itself and what it offers, and thus, reliable in what it conveys to customers?
- Connectedness — To what extent do customers feel engaged, familiar with, and sometimes even transformed by the brand and what it offers?
- Integrity — To what extent is the provider perceived as being intrinsically motivated, not acting out of its own financial interest, while acting autonomously and consistently over time?
- Legitimacy — To what extent does the provider adhere to shared norms, standards, rules, or traditions present in the market?
- Originality — To what extent does the brand stand out from mainstream offerings in the marketplace without unnecessary embellishments?
- Proficiency — To what extent is a provider perceived as properly skilled, exhibiting craftsmanship and/or expertise?
How do you measure each of these? Ah, that’s another question, and it will depend on the specifics you face. In some cases you can ask respondents to rate the brand on these abstract concepts directly. If you do that, you will need to simplify the language and make it more friendly. In other cases it will be better to ask for ratings on indicators of each component. (An example: “How much do you agree or disagree that vocal artist A expresses real feelings and emotions?” This could be one indicator of Accuracy.)
Need help figuring the best way to operationalize your own measures of brand authenticity in a way that makes sense for your organization? Give us a call, and we’ll happily talk through how we can help from beginning to end.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.