For the Love of Yourself and All Brands: Be Authentic
Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Conceptually, the meaning of a specific brand is abstract. One can easily name a logo or a product, but branding is more. Defined by Investopedia as, “The term…refers to a business and marketing concept that helps people identify a particular company, product, or individual. Brands are intangible, which means you can't actually touch or see them.”
Consumers rely on how a brand moves within the marketplace. Subconsciously, brand is what drives consumers to a sale and often to return. This sale and return to is driven by trust built by a company. Remaining authentic and consistent in voice and position, a company can build a reliable brand.
The brand drives the purchase, therefore it could be said that it is everything.
Brand Exhaustion Have you seen “Idiocracy”? The satirical movie often haunts the minds of those who consider where we are headed as a species. Take that concept and couple it with the in-your-face life of Anna Sorokin. The excessive amount of messaging we receive coupled with a no holds barred desire to create a personal brand, and one can get brand exhausted. The exhaustion stems from the prevalence of consumer produced support of brands via social media posts, tik toks, and reels. It would seem that very few people are immune to this, and admittedly, I have been there. In particular, these moves that we make to support a brand publicly is part of a great mechanism. This behavior highlights the massive, frenzied attempt for everyone and everything to be a brand. A personal brand. Do we all want to be famous?
This is exhausting.
It also brings into question - if everyone is a brand, and every thing is a brand, where do we put support? Who can we trust? Take a deep breath after reading the above. Seriously. I just did. It makes a huge difference to step off of the merry-go-round of trending, hashtag-driven, bursts of caffeinated social media posts. Yet, how on earth does one build a business in today’s digital age, often driven by technology and social media?
Considering Authentic Branding and Marketing Authenticity is needed more than ever in our oversaturated market. In fact, some companies thrive on it, and build their trust in this manner. (Thank you, Patagonia.) We have all read about living a more minimalistic life and purchasing with intent. The generations that follow are already seeking ways to connect. The high school students that I teach utilize the tools of social media, but have already moved on to the next platform. By the time we older marketers and business owners get around to correctly using TikTok, the next app will have taken over. Discord anyone? Wattpad?
When setting out to speak in longevity terms as a brand and business, the golden rule might just be authenticity in a world of oversaturation. Forbes defines an authentic brand as, “...one that decides to be transparent and consistent in its messaging and branding initiatives. It has business values it remains true to, and most essentially, it is honest.”
Authenticity and Copycat Brands
Owners who don’t understand their own authenticity will struggle. Additionally, in the five years that I have worked within business, I have seen three blatant examples of fraudulent lying and brand copy-cating. It might give someone pause to even enter the business realm. And at times, being a first mover within a business means your model, if others like it, will be copied. However, the writer of this article believes karma is real. In the following stories, the names are intentionally left out, as not to draw attention to the who, but the actions.
One of the insane stories of a person using inaccurate leveraging, is of a college-aged student who applied for a job at a large, national company. In this situation, the student wrote a final research project on this company. The student assumed, due the work put into the paper, that this time counted as having worked for the company. So the student added this as job experience to the resume and used this when applying for a job with this company. When it came to light what happened, the student was given no interview, and in fact reported to the university business department. This is definitely one example of taking the fluffing of a resume to the extremes.
Next, within the markets where I have worked, I have personally witnessed examples of blatant copying of taglines, hard-earned titles, and business models. This echoes the exhaustion of branding saturation. While imitation may be the highest form of flattery, I have no respect for the individuals who fluff and lie. Refer back to karma.
How To Put Authenticity First and Build Trust
Can you define what you do? Publish that, and live by that. If you don’t know what that is, for humanity’s sake, stop moving forward in a realm where you are not finding flow, joy, or whatever gets you out of bed in the morning. Pause and go on a business retreat with yourself. If this sounds privileged, take an afternoon and visit a park, or a quiet location to get deeper. Take time to refine your mission, and in that you will harness your own authenticity. Having lived over forty years on this planet, I know firsthand that your voice is the truth that you need to speak, and more importantly, that the world needs to hear.
Above all else, you owe it to yourself to be true to you, and you owe it to others to stay in this lane. Frauds will get caught - check out Anna Sorokin’s story on Netflix to confirm.
Spoiler alert: she goes to prison, loses most of her friends, and has been disowned by her family.
Citations: Georgiou, M. (15 Mar 2021). “How And Why To Build Brand Authenticity.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2021/03/15/how-and-why-to-build-brand-authenticity/?sh=18f4cc3255b5. Retrieved 27 Feb 2022. Kenton, W. “Brand.” (6 Sept 2021). Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/brand.asp. Retrieved 27 Feb 2022.
Johnson, A.R. et al. (2 May 2015). “What Does Brand Authenticity Mean? Causes and Consequences of Consumer Scrutiny toward a Brand Narrative.” . Brand Meaning Management, https://doi.org/10.1108/s1548-643520150000012013. Retrieved 26 Feb 2022.