BUY OR SELL | Brand Authenticity

Hart Editorial Staff

The concept of authenticity is one that has long been debated, from water coolers to chatrooms. In a world where deep fakes are an ever-growing presence, and people believe reality and truth often exist independent of one another, how consumers value authenticity is a matter of increasing importance. In fact, an overwhelming 90% of millennials say brand authenticity is important, with nearly three-quarters of that group suggesting family and friends are the most authentic – that is, trustworthy – sources of social content.

At Hart, the question of authenticity is always top of mind in the work we produce for our clients. It simply has to be that way. We continuously ask ourselves how we can deliver campaigns and work that are authentic for the business and its messages.

As part of Hart’s “Buy or Sell?” series, we sat down with three key team members who have a tremendous amount of career experience to share their own viewpoints on the topic of authenticity.


Hart Editorial Staff: Buy or sell: Influencers are the most authentic representatives of a brand.

Matt Rowland: SELL. Because they’re getting paid to promote that product, and that’s simply not being authentic. Sure, maybe they stumbled on that product organically, but more than likely they’re shaping their opinion about that product just so they can get paid.

Greg Shaw: I’d agree with SELL. Sometimes you can just read through that polish that comes with a paid testimonial, and unpolished endorsements just feel more authentic. As a consumer, I find it very difficult to connect with those who don’t speak with conviction about the product they’re promoting.

Esther Fabian: I would SELL for the same reasons they said. They’re essentially getting something in return for reviewing it. However, I’m not necessarily BUYING, but if forced, my logic would be that they have their own reputation and an endorsement would serve as an extension of their personal brand.

What sort of person came to mind when I said “influencer?”

Group: YouTube or a social media personality. Sometimes a celebrity.

Question 2. Buy or sell: A brand’s corporate website is its digital storefront.

Fabian: BUY. If somebody is looking for that brand, to me that is the most up-to-date version of themselves.

Shaw: SELL. There are so many social platforms now that can allow you to see what that brand is about and demonstrate a real version of that brand. There are way too many outlets for a website to simply stand out as THE digital storefront.

Rowland: BOTH? I see the website as the nucleus, the part a corporation has the most control over. It’s the most corporatized and curated. When I’m doing my research on a product, I’ll start at the website to see the corporate pitch for what they’re trying to sell me. Then I’ll check the “outliers” to see if this is what they really “live.” You can then easily tell whether they’re buttoned up 360, all around.

Shaw: Agree. If they’re solid on Instagram and their website is also up on content, that would really draw me in.

Fabian: Seems our answers are very in line with our generational viewpoints. I still believe that a website remains the core of any digital storefront.

Question 3. Buy or sell: Employees should be mandated to help promote an employer’s brand via social media.

Rowland: SELL. It is just impossible to enforce. It’s always a good idea to harness employee passion as part of promotion, but let employees decide which content they’ll support and promote.

Shaw: BOTH, but leaning toward SELL. You should want to support the company that you work for. Posting on social is literally the least you can do to support the promotional efforts. After all, authenticity isn’t reflected by mandates. I’ll SELL.

Fabian: HARD SELL. If you have to mandate, you have way bigger problems internally. Any mandated efforts surely don’t feel authentic.

Last question. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is the highest): Healthcare brands connect with consumers emotionally.

Shaw: Eight. An emotional connection seems to be the main goal of any campaign for healthcare brands. That’s what they attempt to do by defining the problem and presenting a solution. In that solution there is a natural attempt at compassion.

Rowland: I agree with the eight; yes overall to Greg’s comments. No matter where someone sits on the healthcare spectrum, whether it be a conflict or insecurity or something cosmetic, it takes an emotional pull to draw that connection.

Fabian: Three. I see this very differently. As an industry, healthcare is wrapped up in its own world, one that doesn’t allow people to provide insight. We frequently hear about the newest technology and how safe they are – why in the world wouldn’t they be safe?!? When a healthcare organization allows outsider voices, that’s frequently when emotional connection can really occur.

To learn more about this topic and others as it relates to your brand, reach out!

Jeff Lutz, VP, Corporate Communications & Content