Why is it that people roll their eyes at politicians?  Are we assuming they are only saying what they think we want to hear?  Once elected, do they follow through with all of their promises?  Are they talking the talk and walking the walk?

When was the last time you really watched a commercial? DVRs make it possible for us to fast forward through them, but I cannot tell you how many times I have sat through a round of commercials and not been able to recall a single thing about them afterwards. Have we lost belief in advertising?  Do we assume it is all a gimmick to get us to buy?  Have consumers developed the same mistrust in advertising that they have in politicians?

At the end of the day, we stopped trusting in things we know are not authentic. We no longer believe things that have a history of untruths.  Today we have access to facts and data literally at our fingertips. For this reason, we are quickly attaching ourselves to products, companies and people who we know talk the talk and walk the walk.

Think of the brands you are loyal to. Who are they?  What keeps you coming back for more?  Do you feel connected to the brand?  Do you trust them? Are you likely to spend more money with them?  Do you recommend them to your friends and family?

Whole Foods is this brand for me. I love walking into Whole Foods. The people are kind, and I believe that: Although I am spending more money, I am supporting local farmers and ethical practices.  I believe that the food I eat from Whole Foods is actually making me healthier.  Why?  Because Whole Foods walks the walk.

Whole Foods is a brand that delivers on their commitments to the marketplace. They have been ranked by Fortune Magazine as “One of the 100 Best Companies to Work For” for 17 straight years, since the magazine started their rankings. They have an “open policy” when it comes to salary – any employee can see any other employee’s salary, right up to the CEO, John Mackey. Even hourly employees earn 3x the minimum wage.

Here are a few other brands that are who they say they are:

Amazon is known for exceptional product accessibility, functionality and customer experience.  Amazon is also famous for user reviews for the products they sell, helping other consumers make decisions based on other’s authentic experiences with a product.

FedEx has created a strong corporate identity by being reliable and recognizing that it’s not just ‘moving packages and boxes’, but actually ‘people’s treasures, livelihoods and futures’ in each box.  Customers trust is a top priority to FedEx.

Apple has always represented creativity and expression.  What is not publicized is that they strive to hire empathetic people.  They do not measure their sales associates on sales. Rather, they are measured on how well they can inspire customers and foster a positive experience with the brand.

Nike declares its mission to be “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.  If you have a body, you are an athlete.”  How is that for inspiration?

People are brands too.  Early on in my career, a mentor asked me “What is the Carrie brand”?  This was such an interesting concept at the time.  It challenged me to really think and write down things like ‘who am I’, ‘what do I stand for’, ‘what are my convictions’, and ‘what do I believe in’?

Take Warren Buffet for example.  Why do politicians, Wall Street executives, and individual investors seek his support?  They trust him, he is who he says he is.  He has admirable character, particularly in the investment world.  For more than 50 years, he has preached the same message ‘invest for the long term’ and he has always practiced what he has preached.

Whether we are looking to build our own personal brand, or are responsible for creating the world’s next mega brand – there is no doubt that authenticity wins.  Below are four commonalties between today’s most authentic and trusted brands:

1. Delivering exceptional customer service.

2. Building an emotional relationship or connection with your customers.

3. Inspiring others.

4. Creating trust through authenticity.

We know the trust consumers place in brands is tied directly to their ability to deliver on who they present themselves to be. That is why, at Bazaarvoice, we have made it our mission to help build consumer trust in brands through reinforcing authenticity in the marketplace. Ratings and reviews are a transparent and open way for companies to present a consumer’s opinion on a product or experience. We make it our mission to ensure that brands are walking the walk.