Want to Differentiate Your Company? Try Authenticity

As you build your business, you will look at how you can best serve your customers. You will consider the ideal price point and how to market to those people. You might also contemplate the exact menu of products or services you are going to offer and how to sell those offerings to your target customer. While this planning is part of any business, don’t forget that you also need to differentiate your company from the rest.

Customer service is one way to do this. Some companies also compete on price or innovation, but if you think your options are limited to those few things, think again. According to a recent study by PR firm Cohn & Wolfe, the number one quality today’s customers want in a business is honesty.

A Changing World

Modern business is very different than it was in the past. Thanks to financial crashes and security breaches, only 3% of people in the United States believe that big companies can be trusted. The fact that the world has gone digital only compounds that fact. Information, both good and bad, can be shared in seconds, reaching people around the world. A single mistake can be enough to wreck a good reputation.

You really only have two choices: celebrate your authenticity or hold your breath, waiting until the day when a less-than-honorable strategy or event brings your company down to its knees. Honesty is the solution. It can help differentiate your company in a myriad of ways.

Walk the Walk on Values

To be as honest and transparent as possible, many companies today are making sure that business missions and values are in alignment AND that these concepts are reflected in any marketing messages. In other words, they walk the walk. Outdoor recreation gear company Cotopaxi is a perfect example. Its slogan, “Gear for Good,” reflects its devotion to quality products and hints at its efforts toward alleviating poverty. Cotopaxi emphasizes these realities in its marketing, both through its blog and its ambassadors.

Transparency Builds Trust

Transparency can also build trust. Amway is a health and beauty products company that uses direct selling for marketing its products. This structure means that individuals go out and sell independently of other sales reps. The problem is that unless you know someone who sells Amway, you might not be fully aware of what the company does. This can lead to questions like whether Amway is a scam or not. Amway dispels these rumors by being very transparent about its direct selling structure and explaining in articles and video how and why it operates the way it does. By doing so, the company makes it easy for its agents and its end customers to trust in Amway.

Honesty Fosters Loyalty

Whole Foods Market did something similar. The upscale grocery chain was seeing some of its customers worry about GMOs. So, to satisfy those people, Whole Foods committed to GMO transparency. Now, each department has fact sheets and shopping guides that explain genetically-modified food production. This move helped position Whole Foods as an authority and trusted leader in the food space, and it differentiated the market chain from its rivals.


As you think about ways you can differentiate your business from others, think about ways that you can be more authentic in the way you do things. When you celebrate your authenticity, you create an opportunity for your customers to choose your company based on your values. Over time, people may come to trust your brand, and that could make them more loyal to your brand in return.