Why does a good name matter? You might as well ask “why do we do business with people we trust?” There are two parts to authenticity: your own belief in your truth and actual truth (correspondence with reality). Constructing an authentic brand means exploring the objective truth about yourself and then finding the confidence to be able to tell that compelling story out there in the market. Let’s unpack this a little more.
You Can’t Afford to Be Hypocritical
Hypocrisy can make sales, but it can’t sustain a business. A smooth, swift-speaking salesperson can tell a wonderful story and promise you the moon. They can get you to buy a product. But once that product arrives and the quality is lacking, features are missing and no one on the poorly-named “customer success team” seems to care, you realize you’ve been duped. This company wasn’t after your business, they were after your sale. You won’t come to them again. You shouldn’t. After posting a poor review, sharing your experience on social media and telling your friends over the next few weeks, you will move on.
Though that company won the battle and made the sale, they will inevitably lose the war as word gets out about their hypocritical business practices and they run out of prospects. Their public identity will become irredeemably tarnished and all their riches can’t buy back their name.
Authenticity is the Antidote to Hypocrisy
We’ve all had experiences with companies that embody a sales-focused, hypocritical ethic. And it’s easy to poke fun at those companies. But what is stopping you from becoming that company? The reality is some of the companies with ruined names in the marketplace never intended to be hypocritical. They tried to fulfill their promises. They looked to their competitors and built their business around the best qualities they saw. Maybe you have built your company in a similar way. So how did those companies sink so low and how can you avoid that fate yourself? Through a genuine humble authenticity.
You aren’t your competitors. That might be an obvious statement, but it’s one worth thinking about. If you aren’t your competitors, then why would you think their business plans, promises, and products would work for you? Those plans, promises, and products are not intrinsically successful. If they were, every company would only produce those things. They are successful because they’re an authentic expression of the company from which they come. So if you think doing what everyone else is doing but better is a solid game plan, you’re in for a terrible realization. You’re destined for hypocrisy. You aren’t Alphabet, Apple, Nike or Starbucks and that’s OK. The world doesn’t need another Apple. It needs you as you really are.
Authenticity is the antidote to hypocrisy. If you build your business plans, promises, and product offerings out of who you truly are, you will be able to build a sustainable business. You will make promises you can honestly keep, not promises you hope to keep or would like to keep. The kinds of products you offer will be higher quality because they’ll be things you know and care about. Your customer support will be a genuine expression of your desire to serve the world instead of a desire to be like another company.
Celebrating Your Strengths and Acknowledging Your Weaknesses
The challenge of being authentic is not celebrating your strengths, but admitting your weaknesses. In order to develop your brand in an authentic way, you need to do both. I don’t mean you need to make a marketing campaign celebrating your struggling production schedule. But if you do struggle with a consistent production schedule then you should add a couple of days to the delivery date for your product. You won’t be the quickest company to deliver, but you will be the company that always delivers on time.
By honestly evaluating your weaknesses and building those into your brand, you create an internal and external name for yourself which your business can sustain and build upon. You make promises you can keep to your customers. Your team doesn’t feel pressured to perform beyond their capabilities. Your sales team doesn’t feel pressured to promise the moon to make a sale. They know your strengths and they know you’ve built your promises around your weaknesses. All of your processes, promises, and plans are built out of who you are now, not who you wish you were. When all of this falls in line, you can meet and exceed customer expectations. You can build a name for yourself — a name that is better than riches.
Authenticity is the Ground to all Actual Growth
When you lie about who you are, overpromise and under-deliver, then you create a culture of chaos. A dozen little fires pop up and spread into a wildfire. Customer concerns bubble up. Production issues multiply. Pretty soon all you’re able to do is keep the fires at bay and pray. That’s not a great spot to be in.
When you develop your brand around who you actually are — strengths and weaknesses alike — you create an environment for growth. Because you’ve built your business around who you really are, there’s less room for error. You’ve built processes that correlate to reality. Your team can grow because they don’t have to do much firefighting. Instead, they can focus their energy on their craft. They can develop new systems, new skills, new relationships which can take your company to the next level. As your team becomes more capable, you can confidently make better promises, plans, and products. Your good brand only becomes better. You start beating your estimated delivery dates, your product quality improves and your production cycle gets a little tighter. All of these things work together to improve customer relations. Word continues to spread and the value of your name increases.
Great Branding Flows From Authentic Companies
Great branding is the product of a well-defined, authentic company. It celebrates the strengths of a company, keeping in mind their struggles as well. It is built on genuine values and personality traits, not imitation. A great brand looks, sounds, and feels like the people who run the day-to-day operations. Remarkable brands are always authentic brands.
The process of honest self-discovery can be difficult, but it’s worth it. We believe that inside every brand is a remarkable core and that every brand should be built upon that core. We love to see brands that reflect that remarkable core and are dedicated to guiding people in that process. We’re even writing a book about that right now. If you’re interested in learning more, consider signing up for our book mailing list. You’ll be exposed to more great content like this, as well as some exclusive content just for people on our mailing list.
And remember, a good name is better than riches.