Authenticity: the quality of being authentic; genuineness.
Audiences are marketed to in every area of their life now. Marketing tricks are overused and generally inspire a sense of distrust in a potential customer. Most audiences feel that if they are being manipulated in any way, that a brand must have something to hide and instead of converting, they walk away. This can be avoided though by being authentic.
Authenticity allows audiences to connect with a brand on an emotional level, when they see a brand being raw and honest, it inspires a sense of trust. Audiences no longer trust a brand that makes great claims, they trust the brand that demonstrates that they care about their customers. Gone are the days of appealing to someone sense of self, and here are the days of giving back to communities in a way that is brand appropriate.
A brand who does this expertly is Chick-Fil-A. They pride themselves on service and are well known for it. However, if you think for a minute that feeling of great service goes a bit deeper, they aren't just there to provide great service, they do so in a way that shows that they actually care about you receiving great service. This connects to their faith-based roots. It's not a marketing tactic they made up, it's actually part of the beliefs of the people who started the company. That kind of authenticity speaks to people.
Chick-Fil-A goes above and beyond to demonstrate how they care for people, like how they famously delivered food during the hurricane flooding on a boat. They have great marketing, but it's their authenticity that creates such loyal customers, making them the leader in fast food.
In order for your brand to be authentic, you have to determine your brand's why. What's at the heart of your business? Why do you do what you do? What makes the job worthwhile? That's what your audience is looking for, a glimpse into that why, a chance to connect. If you're having trouble determining your why, or how to incorporate it into a marketing strategy, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll help you brain storm some ideas.