Why Authenticity Is The Number One Competitive Edge
Authenticity is regarded as a valuable quality to possess. We strive to ‘live our truth’ and to shine a light on who we truly are. But in order to really uncover authenticity, we need to understand what it boils down to. Authenticity is simply living true to you, it gives you the platform to be real and honest. Although it falls in the realm of personal development; it can often be overlooked as a transferable skill in business. Having a business that is authentic should be at the core of your strategy. This is why the brand culture you build and how you embed these brand values into your daily life, truly matters.
We often wear different ‘hats’ at different times of the day, but who we are as a person shouldn’t change whether we are at work or not. How you approach problems, treat people and behave in your personal life should also be the same in the workplace. If it does change then ask yourself why you feel the need to wear a mask? Why do you feel the need to change and morph into someone else? Being a social chameleon can be disingenuous and constantly bending to the desires of others lacks integrity. Be you and be true, you will attract the right things and the people for you; the rest will fall by the wayside.
Authenticity increases connection
Business revolves around creating better relationships with your customers, staff and community. According to Edelman, only 52% of global respondents trust businesses. Your ability to harness authenticity as a business will improve trust in all relationships within your organisation. The ability to be vulnerable and honest about your short fallings as well as your strengths, helps to build stronger relationships.
Conformity vs Originality
A huge benefit of being authentic is your ability to be 100% unique and original. This will allow you to create relationships with those who have values which align with yours. Now if you are conforming to other people’s beliefs and their values, then you risk attracting opportunities and people which do not serve you. The things you say and do need to be your truth in order to create total transparency and trust. You should focus your efforts on what you really believe in, because you can not be original without being authentic first.
The Rise of Imposter Syndrome
Businesses are seeing a rise in ‘imposter syndrome’ – where individuals have doubts and insecurity about their accomplishments and they internalise this fear as being exposed as ‘a fraud’. We often find high performing individuals suffering from this. On the outside they look like they have everything together, but on the inside they hide their insecurity and lack of self worth. If you build a culture that is authentic, it can build confidence within staff and teams. If you are not being authentic then you are being an imposter. If your business bases its foundations on inauthentic behaviour then you risk having a team which doesn’t value loyalty or honesty. It only takes one bad egg to infect the lot. Be conscious and aware of the impact you have on everyone around you. Let your light shine and watch everyone else light up around you.
Creating Meaningful Brands
A study in 2017 by Havas Group found that 75% of consumers expected brands to contribute to the quality of life. They expected brands to be consciously considering this and have an authentic concern on their wellbeing. It was also interesting to find out that only 40% of individuals believe brands do contribute in this way. Like our personal relationship we show concern and care for them. The same should go for business. Communicate and share content with consumers which show your desire to impact lives positively. Share content that impacts consumer wellbeing, it should always be a choice of ‘People before Profit’.
Consumers more than ever are demanding authentic storytelling. Since the digital revolution we have had mass marketing messages thrown at us. Thankfully advertising is facing compliance as consumers demand it. How you communicate should be done honestly and with integrity. It’s incredibly obvious when brands share content which has been manufactured. The main giveaway is that what they say does not marry up with what they do. You need to connect all the moving parts – what you do, what you provide to consumers and how you say it; in order to really create content that builds trust.
Humanise your brand
We have seen decades of faceless brands and now is the time to completely dissolve this idea. A business is only as good as the people behind it. If these people don’t exist then so does the value of the business. Let the faces of your organisation be seen. Let your leaders and CEOs lead the way for authentic communication which builds engagement internally and externally. Let them lead with purpose driven values and a vision which is concerned with the welfare of employers and the greater community. Allow your employees to not only be seen but be celebrated, it’s a step away from being a family so give recognition where it’s due and what powerful change take place.
Great examples of being authentic campaigns:
Dove has been running its Dove Self-Esteem Project for many years. When this campaign ran it transformed the brand from just selling soap to really empowering women worldwide. Their mission statement was that “beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety.”
Patagonia has not always been an ethical brand, they have been wrapped up in a number of ethical scandals. However in recent years they have started to showcase their flaws in an authentic way.
Patagonia’s famous advert on Black Friday read “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” The ad copy laid out exactly what the creation and distribution of the jacket had on the environment, to help raise awareness of consumerism. They may not be perfect as a company but they are being more honest about their flaws and that automatically creates trust.
Now you know what makes an authentic brand, how can you apply this to your brand? Can you create a long lasting legacy through the way you decide to run a business, in an authentic and transparent way? Have integrity as a brand, be honest and build trust – the way you would when trying to build your own personal relationships. Thats how we all grow and flourish.