Today’s consumers demand more of the brands they support than ever before. Learn how to create valuable connections & increase your brand authenticity.
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2022 Brand Authenticity Index™
Building Authentic Connections During Unpredictable Times
Key Pillars of
We’ve turned a page. Now that we are past the acute phase of the pandemic, what once seemed like a New Normal is starting to look like a Great Reset.
The past two years have reset how we engage with each other, how we live our lives and how we interact with the world around us. This global shared experience has also reset the relationship between us, as consumers, and the brands with which we engage.
Of course, we still find ourselves in turbulent times. Global instability, supply chain challenges, human rights abuses, climate change and a myriad of other factors make the world we live in less predictable.
The brands that weather the instability will be the ones that connect most deeply with consumers, in a way that transcends what was previously thought possible. The brands that thrive in the Great Reset are those who create authentic connections with the people they serve.
The Roadmap to Becoming an Authentic Brand
The Brand Authenticity Index is a roadmap to help you create authentic connections with consumers.
Focusing on the pillars that foster authentic brands can help you delve deeper into consumers’ lives and create unbreakable connections – which are critical as you navigate an unstable world.
2022’s Most Authentic Brands
Calm continues the wellness trend and puts the fundamentals of sleep and meditation in the palm of our hands. Consumers give Calm credit for telling its story in an honest way that helps them understand why holistic wellness is essential.
Patagonia rose to the top because of recent donations to fight climate change. This deepened its connection with consumers and earned more profound respect for taking a stand for what Patagonia believes in and aligning with consumers’ values.
Whole Foods is a brand that has consistently risen each year. This is a brand that has become more accessible over time. Consumers believe more than ever that Whole Foods “Cares about People Like Me” as it works to lower the costs of healthier foods.
Kiehl’s leads with its natural ingredients and building a brand based around the ingredients in its products in a way that many other fashion brands and cosmetic brands aren’t.
USAA is consistently the gold standard of consumer connections in the insurance industry. USAA does right by our military families and has its consumer’s backs in a way that they’re not used to from insurance companies, making its strong performance even more extraordinary.
Rocket Mortgage is changing the way we finance homes. Mortgages have historically been a challenging and burdensome process. Rocket Mortgage has made the home-buying process more accessible by putting the power in the consumer’s hands.
Levi’s leans into who it is, communicating with consumers in a way that evokes nostalgia and feels true to who it is, earning high scores for being Honest and Transparent.
Coinbase is changing the financial landscape and is on the front lines of introducing a new generation of consumers to invest. Its disruptive nature feels authentic to who it is, and the brand has done a great job of telling its story.
Everywhere consumers look in their lives, they can be reminded of something they bought at Costco. Costco’s Consistent and Transparent experience from coast to coast allows it to occupy a unique space in consumers’ minds.
Allbirds is well known for its sustainable and extremely comfortable shoes, allowing consumers to “feel good” in multiple ways, which contributed to leading scores in “Cares About People Like Me” and “Aligns with My Values.”
PILLARS OF AUTHENTIC BRANDS
These are the top factors that determine a brand’s authenticity.
How Authentic Brands Feel
What Authentic Brands Do
Tell Their Story
Align With My Values
Care About People Like Me
Watch highlights from recent events
EMPOWER THE CONSUMER
We all want to feel empowered. That’s why consumers appreciate when brands give us the information we need to make the right decisions and expand the notion of what we can accomplish.
Unlock New Opportunities: We all want more control over lives. We seek out brands like Index winner Calm (#1), which puts mental health care in our pockets; Allbirds (#10), which simplifies our day-to-day by delivering functional and fashionable products; and Fitbit (#29), which helps us make smarter health decisions by giving us real-time data about our lives
Shift the Power: We all want challenging goals be easier to accomplish. We trust brands like Rocket Mortgage (#6), which help us get into our dream homes by simplifying the overly complicated mortgage process; Coinbase (#8), which helps us build wealth by making the buying, selling, and managing of cryptocurrency accessible to anyone; and Peloton (#68), which helps get in shape by giving us an amazing workout in the comfort of our homes.
Own Who You Are
We all can sense when a brand isn’t being true to who it is. Lean into your story, tell us where you came from and who you are — whether you’re taking us back to a simpler time or changing the way we live today.
Evoke Nostalgia: Brands with a long heritage remind us of why we love them. Levi’s (#7) creates the most iconic piece of clothing in America, Converse (#25) originally blended sports and fashion, and Heinz (#45) is one of the most well-known staples in our households.
Change the Game: Brands are changing the way we experience the world. Amazon (#17) puts everything at our fingertips, Impossible (#22) is changing our eating habits while also saving the planet, and Spotify (#59) is democratizing music.
Take A Stand
Owning who you are means telling us what you believe in and taking action on those beliefs. Tell me why you do what you do, who you do it for, and how you’re making the world a better place. Even if we sometimes disagree, you’ll ultimately be rewarded for taking a stand.
57% of Gen Z and 54% of Millennials say that they would have a more favorable opinion of a brand if it took a stand on an issue that they care about.
Tell the Why Behind the What: Brands that use their influence and impact on the world make us feel hopeful. Patagonia (#2) fights to protect the public lands, USAA (#5) fights the headwinds of an unpopular industry to always do right by military families, and Veja (#46) tells us how much each employee makes and where each ingredient is sourced.
Make sure the Why Truly Impacts the What: Brands that align their influences with their actions. Whole Foods (#3) only carries products that meet a certain quality level, and CVS Health (#20) stopped selling products that don’t align with their values (and our best healthcare interests).
Meet Consumers Where They Are
While consumers are interested in what brands are saying, it’s critical to be in the places where consumers are spending their time to ensure the message is heard.
Social media posts are the most authentic way for brands to communicate with Gen Z (63%) and Millennials (62%) about their stances on issues. Gen X and Boomers, many of whom are on social media, still believe the most authentic way for a brand to communicate is via TV advertising.
Understand the mindset: Different channels evoke different emotions. Consumers on social media are often in a mindset to connect in a way they’re not when browsing the web or watching TV, so messaging tone should reflect this. Slack (#34) uses its social media accounts to give followers tips and tricks for being more efficient at work, expertly threading the needle of providing value and emotively connecting in a non-workspace. Nike (#53) uses its social channels to support causes and share inspiring pictures of athletes accomplishing amazing feats in their sport.
Where you are is who you are: The shows that brands advertise around, the parts of cities they put up billboards and the influencers they choose to endorse often drive consumer perception. Paypal (#43) recently announced it would withdraw a professional sports sponsorship because the team owner’s conduct was unacceptable and in conflict with their core values.
How authentic is your brand?
Wondering how your brand stacks up? Contact us to learn what brand authenticity can do for you.
More authenticity insights
Read our latest perspectives on our authenticity findings.
As we recover from the trauma caused by the pandemic, many consumers find themselves in a state of shock. The HawkPartners 2021 Brand Authenticity Index™ provides an opportunity for brands to connect in new ways with consumers that are more engaged, connected, and open than before the pandemic began.
Consumers are Now Shaping the Narrative of Brands: Using Brand Authenticity to Keep Brands Relevant in a Rapidly Evolving World
Leveraging the pillars of Brand Authenticity can be used to measure if your marketing strategies now reflect the narratives of consumers.