Ten ways to improve perceptions of your brand authenticity

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Authenticity is everything these days in business. Authenticity refers to how much customers trust a brand in being true to its values and to the community it serves. It's actually tied up to a brand's commitment to a brand's goodness – It's commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Given cause-related event sponsorship is a form of CSR, it is an essential factor that influences how consumers evaluate the sincerity of sponsors. Consumers are often sceptical as to whether sponsorship in these events, which are supporting a cause, makes a genuine contribution to society. Rightly or wrongly, it is often viewed as a marketing activity for the purposes of improving a brand' image or profit.

Now more than ever, consumers give preferential treatment to brands that demonstrate a social conscious. Yet it wasn't too long ago that this cultural shift took place. Consumers started to demand CSR, so the market simply produced it. For many organisations it's a clear way to differentiate their products to achieve competitive advantage. It also satisfies consumer and investor demand with brands believing they are gaining social legitimacy.

Critics, however, view these efforts as simply 'CSR washing', calling out the falseness of CSR claims where really the agenda is driven by reputational and relational concerns. The view of CSR as an insincere response that brands use superficially to strengthen their reputation is compounded by selective disclosure of information.

So how can sponsors improve perceptions of brand authenticity in cause-related event sponsorship? As part of my doctoral studies, I've asked cause-related event participants for their opinion. They've been really generous with their responses and I'm ever so grateful. Hopefully you get as much value as I have from the feedback.

Here's 10 ways you can improve how consumers view your sincerity in sponsorship:

1.Your decision to support a cause must be strategic, not tactical.

2.Demonstrate why the cause is relevant to your company.

3.Do it even when it isn't 'profitable'.

4.Do it without plastering your logo everywhere, provide ongoing support for the cause.

5.Offer labour, not just money.

6.Have more personal engagement with the cause on a regular basis rather than just paying to be a naming rights sponsor, receiving the flow on positive spin that this provides.

7.Actively participate in events.

8.Provide a great product or service, be a fair and kind employer and be generous to the community you serve.

9.Help participants with their goals.

10.Don't spam participants.

As always, if you're looking for strategic assistance to help manage your sponsorship portfolio visit us at eventsponsors.com.au or download one of our sponsorship templates for everything from sponsorship negotiation to agreements to help you out.

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