Should you - can you - measure authenticity?

We’ll start from the premise that authenticity is a good thing. A 2019 survey found that 90% of consumers believe authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support – up from 86% in 2017 – and 83% of marketers agree saying authenticity is very important to their brands.

Authenticity is, of course, not just about brands, it’s also about businesses and organisations, and about workforces, and about individuals. However you look at it, Authenticity is an important thing.

There’s power in using your authentic voice

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama wrote: “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice.”

Employee perception of authentic leadership is one the strongest single predictors of job satisfaction, organisational commitment and work happiness – all factors in a high employee engagement score.

According to Gallup, the most engaged teams in its (sizeable) database – when compared with the least engaged teams – experience an average of 44% less absenteeism, 10% higher customer scores and 21% higher profitability.

So, authenticity is key to trust, to belief, to propensity to engage and to propensity to purchase. Authenticity is a business imperative, however, you cannot (as a brand, as an organisation, as a leader) be perceived as authentic unless you communicate your authenticity.

Communication strategy is linked to authenticity

Emmanuelle Probst, SVP of Brand Health Tracking at IPSOS, in his 2018 article What Makes a Brand Authentic suggests finding your authenticity in stories about your brand or organisation, and developing those stories to communicate it. Most importantly, he says that the stories have to ring true.

Your communication strategy is inextricably linked to how authentic you are seen to be. Unless you communicate your authenticity, none of your audiences are going to know about it, or understand it, or engage with it in a positive manner.

But the story you’re telling – your communication strategy – has to ring true. If your communication is inauthentic, you will not be perceived as having that quality.

If, therefore, we’re measuring authenticity, then surely a good place to start is to measure the authenticity of a brand or organisation’s communication strategy, direction, activity, and the materials that support them.

There are eight elements that contribute to authenticity in communication and against which communication activity and content can be measured:

The written and spoken words your organisation uses, as well as the choice and flow of those words

The overall sense of what you are communicating and what that says about your organisation and its character

The structure of your communication, containing clear messages that are important to your brand or business

The content you choose to communicate should add value, serve a purpose, and benefit your audience

The clarity and visibility of your communication – as important to your authenticity as language, tone, messaging, and content

The context of who will be receiving your communication – authenticity of communication matters more to some audience groups than others 

The strategic approach to delivery across the most appropriate channels and platforms 

The culmination of language, tone, messaging, content, accessibility, audience identification and delivery and the ultimate barometer of the effectiveness, and therefore authenticity, of your communication

An organisation’s communication (external and internal) can, and should, be benchmarked against each one. This will provide an indicator of how authentic – and, therefore, how effective – communication is, in terms of overall strategy as well as individual programme elements.

Certainty and consistency

Getting communication right and embedding it as a process – a ‘how we do things around here’ – provides certainty and consistency. It enables all your stakeholders to understand and engage with the story of your authenticity, your beliefs, your behaviours and your way of doing business.


4TC has developed its proprietary Authentic8 Communication (Authenticity and Effectiveness) Audit to enable businesses and brands to assess their communication strategies and activities for authenticity and, therefore, for effectiveness.

Authentic8 is borne of many decades of PR, corporate communication and journalistic experience. It blends independent assessment with self-assessment and examines communication strategy, content and tactics both from an external and an internal point of view.

4TC’s Authentic8 tool can be tailored to the specific needs of individual businesses and provides an analysis of communication authenticity and effectiveness, accompanied by recommendations on actions that might be taken to enhance your performance.

For further information, contact us at

Photo by Mariah Solomon on Unsplash



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