How to Practice Brand Authenticity at Trade Shows

Authenticity is increasingly important among Millennials, a group that influences roughly $40 billion in annual sales. But what exactly is it, and how can brands practice authenticity at trade shows?

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Brand authenticity is about trust, identity and originality

Like people, brands have personalities and values that inform their actions.

When a person acts out of step with their values, saying one thing and doing another, they’re called fake.

The same idea applies to brands.

If your marketing strategy does not align with who your brand is, it will ring false to customers, and they will leave. According to Deloitte & Touche, brand authenticity accounts for 92% of the brand trust.  

The rise of authenticity as a value is rooted in a loss of identity within society.

Though people are as ‘connected’ as ever through social media, something profound is lacking in their lives, and it’s being reflected in how they interact with brands.

What is missing is a sense of belonging and identity in a community.

A YouGov survey reveals that 3 in 10 Millennials report being lonely. As a result, consumers are anchoring themselves to brands that align with their core values—they’re looking for a community with like-minded brands.  

Trust and identity help sustain the relationship between a brand and a client or consumer–originality is what initially attracts them.

The three most “authentic” industries are apparel, automotive and cosmetic. Why? In part because consumers use brands to differentiate themselves. What kind of clothes you wear, car you drive and how you look speaks to someone’s personality.


Ask these questions about your brand  

Related to trust, identity and originality, here are some questions to help you reflect on how authentic your brand is.  

Trust. What is your brand’s unique value proposition (UVP)? What is your brand’s core promise to the client/consumer? Why is that your promise? What are all the ways your brand delivers on its promise? How is your brand’s promise different from others?  

Identity. What are your brand’s core values? What does your company believe in? Are your values open for all to see? How often do your values align with your customers/clients’ interests? Why does your brand exist? Who buys from you and what are they like?  

Originality. Where is your brand in the marketplace? Low, mid or upper? Who are your competitors, and how are you different from them? How do your customers relate to your brand?  

You can always reverse these questions. Instead of asking them about your brand, ask them about yourself.

What brands do you trust and identify with? How did they bring you into the fold? What attracted you to the brand in the first place? Which brands do you tell your friends about?  


The principles of being an authentic brand  

Be transparent. Mention your mission often. Your values belong in more places than the about page of your website. Explain why you exist in a single sentence during email campaigns.

For example, in case studies, highlight how the brand’s core values were fulfilled at the completion of the project. Telling a story following a simple formula is effective. For instance, describe the client’s problem, your brand’s solution and the result, all while making the client the hero.  

Be consistent. Maintain consistency by participating in platforms that align with your identity. Create content that is consistent with brand image across all channels. Make sure customer interaction reinforces your brand’s dependability. For trade shows, that might mean training your booth staff.  

Be yourself. Staying true to yourself will attract a like-minded audience. If you’re on the same wavelength as your clients, then building rapport becomes effortless.

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Applying brand authenticity to trade shows 

There’s nothing special about trade shows that change the principles above.

However, the methods for building trust, being yourself and caring about the community forming around your business might differ.

Building trust might mean something as simple as making promises about your booth during the pre-show marketing and fulfilling them once your prospects arrive.  

For example, if you extend an offer for clients to pick up a gift when they stop by your booth, make sure you have plenty of gifts to give out. If someone schedules a time to stop by but never makes it, mail the gift to their office.  

Another thing is before the show, double check the messaging on your large-format graphics, marketing collateral and hanging signs to make sure your brand’s values are visible and coherent.

Here are some other ideas: 

  • Invest in a custom booth to capture the personality of your brand 

  • Train your booth staff to engage with attendees in a way that embodies your brand’s dependability and responsiveness 

  • Follow up with leads after the show with an email and call 

  • Include immersive elements like games, VR and celebrity appearances to strengthen your community through shared experiences 

The key to being authentic at trade shows is the same key to being authentic anywhere—be honest, fun and inviting. Figure out what you stand for outside of profit and stick to it.  

The Trade Group provides trade show displays that ensures your brand makes a big impression on the show floor. To discover how we can help you attract more buyers contact us here or give The Trade Group a call at 972-734-8585

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