HOW IMPORTANT IS AUTHENTICITY?

3 questions, 3 observations, 3 specifics and 3 recommendations

All of the recent political ructions have made me ask myself – how important is authenticity?

Authenticity among politicians seems to be in short supply. Being poll driven is hardly an example of being true to oneself

The increasing number of Australian businesses actively promoting their values has lead me to ask – how important is actually living your values?

Many businesses have as one of their values ‘integrity’ and I wonder how we can have integrity without authenticity

Authenticity is a term often associated with personal branding but is does seem reasonable to ask – is it equally applicable to corporate branding?

I would have thought that corporations should be as authentic as the individuals within them

I would argue that the answers these three questions are:

  • Very
  • Very
  • Very

Research suggests that authenticity is very important. It is certainly an important part of integrity and it is every bit as important for corporations as individuals. Indeed the research suggests that integrity is becoming increasingly important as consumers become:

  • More informed
  • More critical
  • More demanding

The choices available to consumers are growing and they are increasingly attracted to the options that are authentic

Consider three examples I have addressed in research:

  • The use of file or photo-shopped photography in promotion
  • The use of CSR to mask the less than savoury activities of a business
  • The use of claims like – ‘get in fast before stocks run out’

I have found that all three are considered less than authentic and in some circumstances a real turn off. These practises are seen as less than sincere and lacking in integrity. They can have a strong negative impact of enquiry rates

Authenticity is becoming increasingly important, not just as a sign of integrity but also as a potential competitive advantage.

My research and my experience point to the fact that REAL authenticity (as opposed to feigned authenticity) can be a powerful point of difference and market attractor. With this in mind I would argue that it is important for businesses to:

  • Clearly define their brand and messaging based on the truth of the matter
  • Ensure that the implementation of the brand reflects authenticity
  • Rather that articulating your values – demonstrate them in all you do

The need for such strategies will only grow as the market becomes more informed, more critical and more demanding, as the result of social media.

Research suggests that consumers will believe social media well ahead of corporations and politicians. This also highlights the importance of implementing a sound social media strategy

This issue will be discussed in more detail on THE D. JOHN CARLSON NETWORK – www.djohncarlsonnetwork.com

D. John Carlson is a behavioural scientist, strategic planner and lateral thinker focusing on branding, marketing and communication. Visit his blog – www.djohncarlsonesq.com

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