Authenticity in brand management

What the Catholic Church shares with Facebook, Nestle, Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Nike, Air B & and Red Bull in brand management - or not!

Authenticity in brand management What is this buzzword and what does it mean for everyday practice?

As a composer of electroacoustic music you learn to put sounds into a dramaturgical form and then you also get to know the meaning of the Latin word "Componere":

It means putting things in a new shape - and like a mosaic - as long as you change the order of the stones - and putting them in a new order - until the overall picture fits. This is exactly what I do in the development of brands and in brand management. I see every brand as an idea that has become reality and with which we can enter into a relationship - just like with a flesh and blood person.

And this person has specific personality aspects - like a mosaic of characteristics - which we can rebalance and put in a different order.

Is it not surprising that today we are discussing authenticity in brand management together….

What times - what customs! What are we talking about today?

Would you attend a webinar on topics like:

  • How am I authentic in encounters?

  • How am I authentic in relationships?

  • How am I authentic in what I say, promise, promise and deliver - or maybe not?

But that's exactly what it's about. Brands are ideas that can be seen as a person in public and with which we have a relationship. Brands take a stand - make it clear what they stand for and what we can expect from you - and also make it clear what they differentiate themselves from and what they do not want to be in contact with or in connection with.

This is where the problem begins for many: if I don't know who I am, what I stand for, and with what passion I pursue my goals and ideas and how this pays off for my brand - then the people who are connected to my brand know - in Relationship - they are not. Brands represent values ​​and provide orientation - and if I change my mind opportunely like a flag in the wind, my brand management will not be very credible and therefore authentic.

Why do I have to make these obvious things so clear?

Probably because of this, many people in companies don't dare to ask themselves the question of meaning and look in the mirror. The end justifies the means. I am paid not to ask uncomfortable questions and to execute what is given.

Strange. We have all heard this before and know exactly where it went in history. Why haven't the alarm bells ringing here for everyone who feels addressed now?

I think this is because we have long been used to it - and

".. yes, everyone could come and question the status quo!"

Yes - everyone will probably come soon and question the status quo and the credibility of relationships - as well as the foundation of brand relationships!

Precisely because of this - because we can.

Before I start a new relationship with a company today, I first look at the company's ratings on Kunununu or other employer platforms. This is the first mirror of trust and paints a good picture. Then I look at what the company stands for, vision, mission, mission statement and look for reports on how to deal with complaints. At the latest now the wheat is separated from the chaff and the difference between self-image and external image is usually very clear.

As I said, brands are not just consumer goods or B2B brands, brands are also organizations or public figures that have become brands and represent certain values ​​for which they stand.

Some examples:

The Catholic Church in Austria:

You can find the following good reasons why you should join us on the site - in other words, enter into a brand relationship between Jesus Christ and yourself:

Community in the »personal search for meaning

  • The desire for a »soulful life

  • The experience of deep personal crises.

  • The first point - the "path community in the» personal search for meaning "is particularly exciting, as it anticipates where brands are going today.

Authentic brands become a pool for communities. In other words, from people who share common values ​​and feel the desire to constantly try something new with the content, with the spirit, with the special energy of this group of people looking for meaning or - with the desire for a soulful life connect.

How high is the credibility - i.e. the authenticity of the Catholic Church - in brand management?

Very problematic.

You should love your neighbor as yourself. - It certainly wasn't meant as what the Church is currently struggling with: abuse cases, cover-ups and a patriarchal leadership structure "fold hands & shut up!" - top down - instead of bottom up. Today this is just more of yesterday.

The next example: Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz

On Sebastian Kurz's homepage it says: My goal is, together with my team, to bring Austria back to its former strength and to ensure that as many people as possible have a job - that is our clear priority. Together we can make a comeback for Austria!

When I read this, I was a little surprised: That sounds a bit like "Make Austria great again!"

But anyway. Sebastian Kurz is undoubtedly very successful as a brand person and stands for orientation and leadership as a brand.

Does the brand communicate credibly? To a large extent - but not always. When Kurz visited the Kleinwalsertal at the height of the corona crisis and took a bath in the crowd for the first time after six weeks without a respirator - he later repeatedly accused the media representatives of not adhering to the distance rules.

When it comes to dealing with criticism, the Kurz brand shows weaknesses - and these are decent minus points when it comes to authenticity - because leadership faces up to responsibility and assumes it personally and does not pass it on to others.

We said today at the beginning: When brands drop their masks, the much-vaunted “authenticity” often manifests itself as a swindle on the label.


Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Does Facebook do this? Yes - but - we all know on Facebook: Big brother is watching you!

Do I trust Facebook? So I absolutely don't. I only present myself on Facebook as a person of the public and would never share anything that is not intended for the general public.


Nestle is the largest food company in the world and has been in the crossfire of criticism since 2012 because the CEO of Nestle is said to have said: water is not a human right.

Since then there have been countless boycott calls against Nestle products and I know a lot of people who deliberately stop buying Nestle products. What the Nestle CEO actually said was this:

"Every government should be held responsible for ensuring that its people have access to this human right. If people cannot pay for it, the government should ensure that they have this access for free"

However, the Nestle CEO also believes that there is no human right to water that we use as a luxury. "There is no human right to water for swimming pools and golf courses," he said in the same interview.

Whatever he said - the credibility of the Nestle brand was not only struck hard with this interview - but the mask of the Nestle brand did not just fall into the water when it came to customer proximity, solidarity and credibility with this discussion, it was really flooded.


"Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world." Make Nike believable. I guess so. Nike has also built many communities and is very well anchored especially among the African-American population.

On the occasion of the murder of Floyd George by a policeman, I often wondered whether Nike as a brand should have taken a clear position here with a campaign or support in the sense of "Black Lives Matter!".

If the American president hadn't been able to take a quick and clear position, Nike could have increased the media pressure and I think that would have been perceived by many Nike brand community participants as very authentic.

Air B&B did it with a clear statement on top on the first page:

We stand behind #BlackLivesMatters We believe in a world in which everyone can feel at home anywhere. That is why we strongly reject any form of racism.

Credible? I even think very much!

What is Air B&B's mission statement:

To help create a world where you can belong anywhere and where people can live in a place, instead of just traveling to it.

Belonging - is to be part of a community. And Air B&B makes it clear that racists are not part of the Air B&B community. Nike would have done it easily in the community of all athletes in the world.

Red Bull: 

The Mission Statement: “Giving wings to people and ideas.”

Does Red Bull live up to its promise, and does it always recharge it with authentic brand stories? Absolutely masterful!

Almost all of these brands have one thing in common: They not only gather fans, but participants in a community of values to form a community of values brands. No matter whether church, Kurz, Facebook, Nike, Air B&B or Red Bull - it is about seeing yourself as part of a community and showing this belonging and identifying as part of the community within the framework of society.

As a result, the brand culture emerges, which leads to the fact that the values of the brand are always loaded with new things.

So what does authentic brand management need? There are three ingredients and these are very simple:

  • Courage - so don't be afraid - and as the greatest good: trust !!!!

  • Sincerity - so no lies - and no self lies

  • Confirmation - So consequence in the fire of the flame (keep the temperature of the brand simmering) - I call it sharing and communicating

Does that Red Bull? Yes, simply masterly! Success is no accident - it was hard and consistently very, very brave and innovative!

In addition, you need a corporate culture that emphatically responds to the needs of your employees and customers and not soulless and insensitive zombies who demand key figure results to secure their own bonus and go over dead bodies.

Today, leadership - and especially brand management - is all about emotional intelligence and no longer about bean counting!

To make it easy:

Authentic brand management hardly differs from an authentic encounter with acquaintances, friends and family. The boundaries between business and private have been clear for a long time and no one wants to invest their time, sympathy and money with a brand, with a person who is characterized by insincerity, lack of interest and emotional cold.

Companies that are committed to shareholder value as the highest value have a good chance of being exposed as a fraudulent label when it comes to authentic brand management.

Profit happens as a result of good relationships!

These were now examples of successful and less successful positioning and brand management.

Forget terms like customer, employee, marketing and sales!

It's about relationships and good, authentic relationship management.

Like in real life.

It's about people. 

We become human by showing that we are vulnerable - make them touchable and also allow vulnerability!

So what does this mean for authentic brand management? The realization that it is damn hard to live the necessary consequence all the time - and that you should be aware of it.

Perfection in authentic brand management is a very high goal - but you can achieve it - see Red Bull. !!!

However, it is better that we strive for a tangible goal in authentic brand management - and we pursue this continuously and credibly.

Then we will be remembered and encourage others to talk about us and share our brand messages with others!

Thank you very much!


Gregor Jasch guides ideas, people and companies to success. He develops these as a strategic and creative partner with heart energy to success with a focus on (new-)business development, personal branding and corporate story-transformation.

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@ Gregor Jasch All rights reserved, excerpts Publications are granted - but only after consultation with the author. Many Thanks!

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