Brand Authenticity is Hard to Fake


Translating authenticity is a big part of the brand designer's goal.

Authenticity is intangible and exists between the layers of life. Perceived brand authenticity is translated through the brand's honesty, and the company's relationship with it's consumers. As consumers are making more informed choices than ever, brands must be real to be believed and can no longer hide behind screens of misleading or irrelevant advertising campaigns and non-existent customer relations. Honesty is valued highly and customers expect brand interaction, their feedback to be heard, and brands to relate personally.

Authenticity is especially hard to fake in restaurant branding. Layering fictional ‘unique’ stories with illustrations, and trying desperately to relate another’s art to the brand story is where restaurants run into clichés. Focussing on the purity of the idea or theme, the story of the owners, or simply embracing the USPs, or the target market is brilliant enough. Where restaurant branding goes wrong is within over-layering simple and pure ideas with meaningless illustrations and pushing the viewer down unnecessary tangents.

In creating a visual or corporate identity, we have the unique chance to create something entirely new from a framing which is presented by the client. There is often little context to begin with, there is blue sky and white paper. We first understand the client's framing, normally through developing a design brief with the client through a series of conversations. Once we have the design brief, we can then consider the specific problem from many angles. We then ideate and develop unique aesthetics. Pulling unique, honest threads out of the brief is where we find and then tease out the brands 'authentic-ness'. 

When you rebrand you are taking something with pre-context, an existing aesthetic, already with viewer expectation and developing it. The reasons for rebranding can be varied but are often specific to the company. The reason for creating an identity, is straight forward and is literally to identify; to create a mark, that represents the product/ service, that people can identify with. Branding should translate the uniqueness of the company, product or service, it's values. 


Brand authenticity checklist

  • Does the identity represent the brand honestly?

  • If you are worried about the believability of your brand, there are too many layers to the story

  • Clichés and design trends are to be avoided at all cost

  • Is the brand's visual voice unique?

  • Is the brand's message transparent and consistent?


About the author, Adam

Adam is the design director of BrandCraft. BrandCraft is a branding and design consultancy based in Hong Kong. We specialise in branding, visual identity, corporate identity and rebranding.

Adam is a branding consultant and has worked with clients in the UK, USA, Hong Kong, Tokyo, South Korea and China. He has had self-initiated art and design projects exhibited at various galleries and museums including the Victoria & Albert Museum of Art and Design and regularly writes about branding and design theory.

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