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Today’s customers are demanding something of businesses in exchange for their loyalty, and it’s not just a great product or service.

In fact, a study by global communications and PR agency Cohn & Wolfe has shown that this highly-valued trait comes even before the product or service.

We’re talking about authenticity.

In Cohn and Wolf’s study, 12,000 consumers from all over the globe were asked to rank what traits they valued most about a company. What finished at the very top of the list? Honesty and integrity – two key components of authenticity.

At its core, authenticity is your company’s key values. And these key values come through in everything you do, write, and say.

These key values can’t be superficially crafted. Like we’ve said – customers will see through the BS. Company values need to be established from the very beginning and consistently communicated all the way through.

Think Facebook – connection, sharing. Or Apple – innovation, clean design.

Tech companies are in top position when it comes to authenticity and its potential. Just think of how often we use technology in our daily lives. Pretty much all the time, right? That’s a lot of trust that people are already placing in tech.

To illustrate this point, Adweek carried out a global study of which brands (across industries) consumers find the most “authentic”. Top tech players including Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft dominated the list.

In today’s digital age where access to information is just a click away and concerns over data privacy and security are common, tech companies cannot afford to disregard authenticity, which relates directly to gaining customer trust and loyalty.

Outline which values you want the company to embody and then live, breathe and communicate those values in everything you do.

Go forth, startups, and be authentic in tech.

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