Building a Brand in an Insincere Age
by Mark Toft, Jay Sunny, and Rich Taylor
January 2020, 198pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7320-1
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7321-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Authenticity is the key to growth for your business and brand.

Brands are alienating customers by telling the wrong story and championing a false purpose. Your business can avoid the same fate, attract loyal customers, and out-narrate the competition by embracing authenticity. Equal parts provocation and exhortation, the insights of Authenticity apply to business, marketing, and life in general.

Too many companies depend on marketing tactics that don’t match the needs and concerns of their customers or embrace messaging and causes that don’t connect. Authenticity is an anti-gimmick business book. It prescribes clear strategies that enable companies to communicate in a more genuine, emotional way.

Authors Mark Toft, Jay Sunny, and Rich Taylor provide a series of approaches to help embrace and communicate the purpose of your brand with effectiveness. Whether you’re a business executive who wants to be more persuasive or an advertising professional looking to grow your brand, this book combines the authors’ successful experiences at top agencies into practical advice that can work for anyone in any business.

Readers will learn the importance of purpose and conflict in marketing activities, how to approach advertising with clarity and passion, and how to plan content while avoiding the false allure of aspirational advertising and insincere corporate social responsibility. Inauthentic messaging can often spell failure for a business, but the company that tells a genuine, compelling story to its clients is the one that succeeds.


  • See how message makes the difference between success and failure
  • Find out why cause-related marketing is perilous
  • Discover why mission statements don’t work
  • Give yourself permission not to be funny
  • See why creation is a better motivation than disruption
  • Find out how authenticity made brands like Airbnb and CrossFit —and inauthenticity is crippling United and Facebook
  • Learn what the Ramones can teach us all about branding and marketing
Mark Toft, chief strategy officer and cofounder of the Narrator Group, was lead digital writer for the Staples Easy Button, and his tagline for CenturyLink, "Your link to what's next," has been in use for over a decade. He has also advised two governors and a United States senator. He graduated from Stanford University and earned his master's degree in fiction writing at Washington University in St. Louis. Toft brings over 25 years of experience advising companies and Fortune 500 brands. His clients have included American Express, Staples, FedEx, CenturyLink, Ball, Flying Dog Beer, and Breckenridge Ski Resorts.

Jay Sunny, chief creative officer and cofounder of the Narrator Group, spent seven years as an art director at the two top advertising agencies in Switzerland, where he created award-winning branding and advertising campaigns that were translated into over 20 languages. His work has appeared on every continent but Antarctica and has won awards from the Effies, Art Directors' Club, Epica, New York Festivals, Clio, and Cannes Lions. His clients have included Swiss Bank Corporation, UBS, Nestle, United Airlines, Swissair, IBM, Canon, CenturyLink, Novartis, Amoco, Verizon, FedEx, DHL, and SC Johnson.

Rich Taylor, senior vice president of the Narrator Group, is a marketing and sales leader with experience in planning, developing, and implementing successful marketing campaigns. He has held leadership roles at Leo Burnett, Lee Hill Inc., and Zocalo Group. In addition to his agency background, Taylor has served as chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing and advertising for a leading regional grocery chain. Early in his career, he was a senior marketing manager for a Fortune 100 telecommunications company, where he directed campaigns to support $3.5 billion in annual sales.


"Recommended. All readers."—Choice, September 1, 2020

“I’ve seen people with good ideas fail because they can’t tell a good story. This book will help you sharpen the way you think about and pitch your products or services. Authenticity saves you from the biggest traps and gives you memorable ideas on how to position your brand.”—Hans Tung, Managing Partner, GGV Capital, 7-time Forbes Midas Lister (#7 in 2019)

"There are so many books and articles out there about branding, you can easily suffer from paralysis by analysis. Thankfully, Authenticity goes right to the core of branding—the perception of a brand’s mission and credibility. It will positively impact your business, and you as well."—Stephen Smith, President, Persuasive Creative Advertising Adjunct Professor, Loyola Chicago Graduate School of Business

"Most business books function best as sleeping pills. Not Authenticity. The examples and anecdotes the authors provide are actually entertaining.”—Christopher Miller, Author of American Cornball, The Cardboard Universe, and Sudden Noises from Inanimate Objects

“This is an entertaining book. More importantly, it’s a necessary book. Business, marketing—the entire culture—needs the lessons and wisdom contained in these pages.”—Sven Kahler, Chief Creative Officer, Kreisvier Communications, Basel, Switzerland
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