The measure of a successful brand so often depends on whether it has achieved authenticity in the eyes of its consumers. But what makes a brand authentic? Turns out, there's not just one recipe for originality. Some brands come across as naturally authentic, without even really intending to do so. Others have succeeded in creating the experience of authenticity for its consumers. We'll let you be the judge. Here's a look at how different brands have tackled the challenge of marketing authenticity.

Background: Although this ice-cream brand's name sounds like it originated in a quaint Scandinavian village, in truth the name was created from two nonsensical words and dreamed up by an entrepreneur in the Bronx.

Strategy: Regardless of where Häagen-Dazs ice cream comes from, the name evokes a sense of place that feels authentic. A brand's authenticity does not have to be literal, as long as it resonates with the consumers buying the product. Still, the tactic isn't foolproof, as one failed competitor -- Frusen Glädjé -- that can attest.

Background: The No. 3 ice-cream chain in the country rose to popularity with the idea of making customized ice-cream creations on a frozen marble stone. In the corporate tradition of creating a memorable experience for customers, employees burst into song every time a tip is added to the jar.

Strategy: Dishing up a little dazzle with its sundaes may help Cold Stone achieve its goal of toppling Dairy Queen and becoming the nation's big cherry by 2010, but as many repeat customers have discovered, the singing can soon feel phony and monotonous.

Background: The company created Juan Valdez, a fictional mascot who looked like a Colombian coffee grower, in order to stay true to its tagline "100 percent Colombian coffee."

Strategy: For decades, Juan Valdez retained his appeal because consumers were attracted to the idea of a coffee-grower who worked hard to raise the product by hand, even if the real Juan Valdez was just an actor from New York. But recently, the brand has grappled with how to retain its authenticity with its aging mascot.

Background: In its beginning stages, this Seattle-based coffee chain emerged as a second home, a place where people could linger for hours over "grandes" of java and find employees who would whip up custom-made orders.

Strategy: While Starbucks may have figured out how to sell the "coffee experience," the company's rapid growth has made it difficult to stay true to that fabricated experience. In a widely publicized memo in February, even Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz admitted the brand had suffered from a "watering down of the Starbucks experience."

Background: The company's legacy as a purveyor of outdoor paraphernalia is reflected in the visual iconography of its more than 900 U.S. stores. Even with the wooden canoes and racks of shotguns decorating its stores, Abercrombie & Fitch has become a modern-day hangout for teens buying T-shirts and jeans.

Strategy: The brand has managed to stay true to its origins while also adapting to the times; it has secured appeal for its customer demographic with the dark lighting and amped-to-the-max soundtrack of an after-hours dance club.

Background: The company, often referred to as the king of denim, created the world's first pair of jeans in 1873 and continues to hang on as a brand because of its rich heritage

Strategy: Throughout the years, Levi's has persisted in distributing its signature product --boxy jeans -- despite the many changes in denim trends that have occurred since the early 1990s.

Background: The TV commercial for this car--which was on frequent rotation last fall--was an ode to America's can-do spirit, featuring images of blue collar workers and backed by John Mellencamp's song, "Our Country."

Strategy: While General Motors' campaign "Our Country, Our Truck" attempted to use America's greatness to sell trucks, the reality of the corporate environment at GM was far from ideal. Its recent history includes layoffs that put tens of thousands on the streets. The TV campaign was talking the talk, but GM wasn't walking the walk.

Background: BMW revived the popular 1960s British car and dubbed it "The New Mini" in 2001. While the original design was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation from 1950-2000, the modern-day car is now made in Germany.

Strategy: BMW marketed "The New Mini" as a retro redesign of the original Mini, and revived the footloose spirit previously associated with the 1960s British icon.

What Makes a Brand Authentic?

The measure of a successful brand so often depends on whether it has achieved authenticity in the eyes of its consumers. But what makes a brand authentic? Turns out, there's not just one recipe for originality. Some brands come across as naturally authentic, without even really intending to do so. Others have succeeded in creating the experience of authenticity for its consumers. We'll let you be the judge. Here's a look at how different brands have tackled the challenge of marketing authenticity.

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