Authenticity in business ultimately means speaking the truth about who your company is and what your believes are. It’s an essential piece of branding that distinguishes you from the competition and can set you on a successful trajectory because authenticity in business makes a big impression on your audience.
What makes us special?
There are countless female, Polish-American immigrants who are 5’2” with blue eyes. What makes me “me” are my beliefs, values, life experiences and the like. The same is true for businesses. There are countless business coaches out there or companies who are selling hand-crafted candles. Yet, what distinguishes one from the other is how they conduct your business. Being authentic means sticking to the same messages and tones while avoiding to jump from one fad to the other because of convenience.
When a company doesn’t have clearly defined values or even a voice and tone guidelines it comes off different with each message it sends. Therefore, they end up having lower results. It’s this lack of guidelines that make the company appear inauthentic and displaced. On the other hand, when those guidelines are defined and adhered to by all departments from marketing to customer support – and everything in between – the company can be unapologetically real, and that’s when people who believe in those same views or values notice and start taking notice. Speaking truth in what your company believes in unapologetically is a direct way to connect to your target audience. So much so, that it’s also a fundamental step in building long-lasting, loyal customer relationships with your audience as well. And, that’s extremely powerful.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an immovable powerhouse
Being unapologetically yourself, makes me think of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her popularity and growing support in American politics are undoubtedly thanks to her taking no bullshit. She knows what she stands for, she knows what she’s there to do. More importantly, she’s doing exactly that no matter how tough it gets for her (as I’m sure it fucking does). AOC keeps pushing, she keeps being her authentic self.
Her authenticity is how she distinguished herself from not only her running mates but also many other politicians, period. All of her support comes from her she’s real. She doesn’t compromise nor is she all talk. She’s the real deal and her supporters are loving it. If AOC wasn’t so true to her self, she wouldn’t have been the youngest congresswoman at only 29.
The idea here is to stand your ground like AOC does. To the people that support her, she’s a breath of fresh air because she’s different. That same lesson can be applied to authenticity in business. Your business can outstanding and outshine all of your competitors if you strive to create and maintain your own authenticity.
Easy communication in marketing
Aiming for authenticity in business will make communication significantly easier when you’re advertising, marketing or pitching sales. Whether you’re giving a talk at a conference, chatting up with people at a meetup, launching a Facebook ad campaign or recording a webinar, your brand guidelines will make crafting the message simpler to do. When your messages have the same values and tones across all these ventures, that generate authenticity.
In turn, those messages will be easy to receive by your target audience since, to them, it will feel like you’re speaking directly to them each and every time they come across your company. Messages crafted with authenticity catch attention more easily. They resonate with the audience emotionally too; that’s because you’re not crafting another catching mattering slogan but a sharing your values.
This kind of connection is powerful because it might as well be hypnotic; frankly, they’re outright magnetic.
Authenticity attracts the right people
For each company, the end goal is their mission and vision no matter the reason the company was founded in the first place. When companies stick to their brand foundations, the energy it sends out to the world is amazing and felt by all – think about AOC again. This energy is quite magnetic because it attracts the right people who truly also have the same point of view, whether it is customers, whether its employees, whether it’s partnerships. This energy is too hard to ignore when it’s felt by the intended recipients. That in itself can take your company so far.
Asking the right questions
The opportunity for this is out there for you to seize because not many companies are aiming for authenticity in their businesses. They strive for higher sales which is always good to keep a company alive. But, at the end of the day, they’re asking themselves the wrong question and, in my opinion, overlooking the obvious. The money will follow if you focus on impact rather than revenue.
The right questions aren’t:
- How can we beat last quarter’s sales number?
- How can our next launch generate 25% more signups?
- How do we reach our first million dollars in revenue?
Instead, they focus on the company’s mission
- How can we serve the most people?
- What can we do to get us closer to our vision?
- How can we connect with more people?
Those two sets are questions are a simple mindset shift that can significantly improve the results your company is receiving because it forces you to think about the problem in a different light – one that puts focus on your authenticity.
Japanese hot dog eater
Kobayashi was a record holder competition eater from Japan. Long story short he fell into the world of competitive eating by coincidence when he and his wife were flat broke and needed cash. In fact, Kobayashi made a great career for himself out of it because of how he thought about training for the competitions.
While training for Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2001 – where the record was 25 hotdogs in 12 minutes – Kobayashi thought about the process entirely differently. Instead of asking himself and training himself to eat one or two more hotdogs – aka “How can we beat last quarter’s sales number?” Long story short, in 2001, Kobayashi set a new world record for 50 hotdogs in 12 minutes.
Why does authenticity in business matter?
At the beginning of every project, I sit down and ask my clients really detailed questions – sometimes over and over again – to get them out of their head and to pull certain threads. I do this for two reasons. First, I need to understand what my client thinks because I cannot read their minds. Unfortunately, I’m not telepathic. Second, it’s to get an as detailed as possible view of their vision as I can to figure out precisely what makes this company special.
Until I know precisely what my clients are thinking and envisioning, I don’t know how to make them an effective website – not to mention a brand to match. Often times, I am the first person who helps them put their ideas into such concrete words even if they’re an already established business. Not only are they excited about finally being able to articulate their ideas clearly, but I also see it on their faces, in their demeanor and hear it in their voices. Without this articulation, it’s hard to freely speak about your message which may, unintentionally, come off as different messages each time around.
After running through these exercises with me, they know exactly what’s going on and what they mean to say and how to say it; they have a guideline and a framework to check against all of their company efforts. That’s what authenticity in business looks like: being able to share your message freely and clearly each and every time.
Sharing the Aha! moment
A few months ago, I too had to reassess and redo my own branding. My landing pages no longer fit my businesses well. At first, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong with them; all I knew was that I needed to rethink the message I was sending because it felt misguided and inaccurate.
So, I sat down, treating myself like a client, and I walked myself through the process of asking myself the same questions over and over again, trying to pull a few different threads to get to the core of my ideas and vision. It took me a few drafts of just writing thoughts and ideas out until it finally clicked! It turned out that the message my landing pages were sending weren’t targeting the right clients I wanted to work with which makes the tone and voice of my copy alone flat and unrelatable.
This happened months ago, and I still remember that moment vividly; that moment is what I wish every business owner experienced. That’s what I want every single one of my clients to also experience. It’s something along the lines of: “Oh shit! I see it now! I know how to put this into words I know how to be myself! I know what to say and how to say it, and I can’t wait to get started!!”
I firmly believe that the best way to attract perfect clients is through authenticity in business. I understand that sometimes it can be a bit hard to sand your ground and speak your truth as a business especially those taking a “controversial” stand in current society such as LGBTQ supportive businesses. That’s not easy when everyone is spewing hate left and right. But the moment you start attracting your people, it becomes worth it. That moment becomes absolutely beautiful, mind-blowing and breathtaking. You quickly realize that people are following you because they want to support you because they too believe in that stuff, and most importantly, that you’re in fact living out your mission. And there I nothing more powerful than seeing your vision come to life.
Authenticity in business is the surest and fastest way to live your vision. No, I don’t think we talk about this enough in business discussions. It’s a vital component of branding that helps companies grow by attracting their right kind fo people quickly.
Taking the time to set proper branding guidelines will make your business run more efficiently and, in turn, can have a significant effect on improving your business results.