Authenticity creates trust

Published: May 28, 2020 | Last updated: April 5, 2023
Be yourself - what does authenticity mean in the business world? ProvenExpert explains and shows how personality, emotions and error culture are involved.

Successfully authentic!

Being authentic sounds easy. But not everything that is authentic is also successful in business. One example: If the profile photos on LinkedIn show company employees in casual clothing on the beach, that may be authentic. But these photos are only successful if beaches are the focus of the company, for example because they test beaches. As a service provider in the automotive sector, such pictures would not be very successful. In short: The expectations of the target group are crucial for a successful authentic presentation. Personalities are an important key to this.

Why personalities appear authentic

Authentic characters are trustworthy when they act as individual, unique personalities. Thus, the success of some companies is partly based on being well-known for a charismatic, authentic leadership personality. The former Apple boss Steve Jobs was nearly worshipped. Elon Musk from Tesla is also moving towards becoming a cult figure. In contrast, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appears rather irritating and untrustworthy. These examples show: Attributes associated with the leadership personality can be transferred to the respective brands or companies and shape their success or failure. If a company for advertising and PR does not have a unique company founder, alternative brand cooperations with influencers or micro-influencers are possible. Authentic influencers/micro-influencers can establish trustworthiness in a significant fashion because the target group can easily identify with them. The principle: If "my" influencer has tested this brand, product or service and thinks it is good, there must be something to it.

How values create authenticity

What is perhaps even more important than personalities is conveying one's own values and goals in an authentic and transparent manner. Captivating videos are even better suited for this than easily understandable stories in text form. After all, everyone likes to share entertaining, authentic stories - unlike bloodless PR messages or marketing jargon. The presentation is important, but it is crucial that the words of the videos are followed by deeds. Trustworthy authenticity can only be built if a set of values is practiced.

Why emotions create trust

In the age of standard e-mail replies, robot chats or impersonal FAQs, it is particularly the emotionally charged, authentic customer communication that can be a decisive competitive advantage. With lifeless modular formulations being used everywhere in digital customer contact, the brand that addresses its target group with tailor-made, powerful and perhaps even passionate formulations is more compelling. Undoubtedly, there are also linguistic balancing acts at play here. But authentic, trusting communication requires interpersonal emotionality.

Authentic error culture

We all make mistakes, even in everyday business life. Crucial for building trust: an appreciative and respectful approach to mistakes. If you want to be authentic, you should take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them. Those who credibly show how errors are corrected and avoided gain in trustworthiness. Transparent guidelines for dealing with mistakes or publicly admitting mistakes, making problems and above all their solutions public have proven their worth. Transparency is the decisive key word here.


Successfully authentic: The checklist

  • Know your customers! Every target group has different preferences; also when it comes to authenticity. It is important to identify which these preferences are: With surveys and data analysis. This is the only way to make a well-founded decision on which communication strategies you should use to convey company ideals, values and goals in an authentic and trusting manner. Disney is exceptionally successful with this: the development of an independent streaming platform is not only an ingenious sales move, but also successful PR to present the brand as authentica, trustworthy and fit for the future.
  • Beweisen Sie Zuhörer-Qualitäten! Was jemand sagt und was der Gegenüber versteht, kann sehr unterschiedlich sein. Das 4-Ohren-Modell von Schulz von Thun zeigt etwa, wie verschieden ein vom Beifahrer sachlich gemeinter Hinweis „Die Ampel ist grün“ verstanden werden kann: “Gib Gas“ oder „Sei aufmerksamer“ sind nur zwei mögliche Interpretationen. Missverständnisse sind deshalb eher Regel als Ausnahme. Aktives Zuhören können ist eine wichtige Kompetenz beim Aufbau authentischer Vertrauenswürdigkeit – dazu gehört: Nachfragen und Interagieren. Authentische Kommunikation schafft Vertrauen.
  • Sprechen Sie offen! Legen Sie Qualitätsstandards offen. Teilen Sie alle Informationen zu Ihrem Produkt oder Ihrer Dienstleistung. Das alles in klarer, verständlicher Sprache sorgt für Authentizität und ein Plus an Vertrauenswürdigkeit.
  • Geben Sie Fehler zu! Wenn Fehler benannt werden, ist ein authentischer, kommunikativer und transparenter Umgang gefragt: Entschuldigen versteht sich von selbst. Danach sollten Sie beantworten, wie Sie das Problem lösen und solche oder ähnliche Fehler in Zukunft vermeiden.
  • Zeigen Sie Kontinuität! Die Erfahrung belegt: Marken, die langfristig zuverlässig agieren, beweisen durch diese Konstanz besondere Vertrauenswürdigkeit. Gleichzeitig werden diese Marken als besonders authentisch wahrgenommen, weil sie unabhängig von Krisen oder Gegenwind stabil ihren Kurs verfolgen.
  • Punkten Sie mit Lockerheit! Wissenschaftliche Studien haben bewiesen, dass Humor Vertrauen aufbaut. Die Firma Sixt zeigt das immer wieder mit ihren „unerhörten“ Werbekampagnen. Ein unverkrampfter, lockerer Umgang auch mit schwierigsten Themen zeigt Menschlichkeit, wobei die Professionalität nicht darunter leiden darf: Das Produkt, der Service, die Dienstleistung dahinter muss qualitativ hochwertig sein. Wichtig ist auch die Balance: Den dauerlustigen Klassen-Clown hat schließlich schon in der Schule niemand ernst genommen. Anspruchsvoll Themen können Sie also ruhig witzig angehen, solange Sie sich in anderen Momenten als ernster, vertrauenswürdiger und verlässlicher Partner zeigen.

An authentic road to success?

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