The word “Authentic” or “Authenticity” in the online world of leaders, coaches and entrepreneurs has turned into a catch-phase that rarely holds much value any more. It became a phrase that people adopted to show they did not play by the rules of society or want to fit into the ‘box’ of the mainstream. Being “authentic” is a calling call for independence, uniqueness, honesty and trustworthiness. Today? It really is a word that undermines your brand success and turns you, and your work, into a cliché.
Nothing More Than A Placeholder
Once upon a time, the word “authentic” had a very specific meaning. Based on the Greek work for “Self” – Authentic means to “be one’s self.” Today, we casually use it to mean we are acting genuinely, hold some sort of authority to yourself OR you possess some level of unchanging, yet imperative truth.
Fundamentally, when you tout your own authenticity – you are basically saying that you are yourself.
Well – of course you are.
WHAT ARE YOU REALLY TRYING TO SAY?
When you define your business, brand your leadership style as “authentic” it is a sign you need to dig a bit deeper and tell us WHO YOU ARE. The social scientist in me knows, regardless of the façade we put on, even those masks are a version of ourselves. So – not matter how we show up…we are showing up as ourselves.
As a copywriter, speaker or coach, when people come to me defining their brand, or their brand personality or leadership style as “Authentic” I know they need to do a bit of work. It is time to elaborate on what specifically they want to highlight as “authentic” in their brand.
For some people, “authentic” means funny, informal or cutting-edge. For other people, “authentic” means homey, cozy or family-friendly. These are all awesome descriptive words that will invite your ideal client into your business space.
AUTHENTIC MEANS WHATEVER YOUR WANT IT TO- It IS Just a placeholder
At the end of the day, when we use “authentic” it is a placeholder for something more powerful. Or, it is a word we are using because we think that someone is going to connect with it. But, like words such as “trustworthy,” “honest,” or reliable, we know we are not going to do business with someone who defines themselves as “unreliable” or “deceptive.” As consumers, why would we want to do business with anyone who doesn’t believe in themselves? If they are not drinking their own brand in, why should we?
It is tempting to use words that are fun catch-phrases. However, when we use them – we lose our brand identity, access to our clients, and may forget who we truly are and why we are in business.
HOW TO DEFINE YOUR BRAND CHARACTER
To define your brand character, you need to get specific. If you are allured to the word “authentic” think about specifically what attributes you want people to connect with in your brand or business. Your brand character is your brand’s personality. This personality is what attracts customers and clients to you. When you brand has personality traits people are connected to, they are more likely to buy from you.
Envision your brand like a person. What does s/he look like? What kind of clothes she s/he wear? Where does s/he live? What kind of car does s/he have? And then what descriptors is your brand? Bold? Brave? Adventurous? Analytical? Curious? Analytical? Cautious? Imaginative?
Think about the brands you connect with most – how would you describe them? Let’s think Nike? Strong, Athletic, Limitless, Dominance, Innovation, Performance and Winning. Those are traits we aspire to — so, we are attracted to the brand because we are attracted to the person the brand represents.
BE BRAVE AND STOP BEING AUTHENTIC
So – the moral of this story is to stand up bravely and walk away from being “authentic.” Tell the world who you really are. Step away from the barrier of authenticity and let people get to know who you are and what your brand really represents using powerful, but concise words. Nobody will accept who you are, or what your brand represents until you are honest with yourself and who you are as a brand…and as a brand leader.
If you are struggling with unpacking your brands authenticity, it is time to schedule a quick chat with the Wordwell Group. You can never show up in front of an audience until you know who, and what you are representing. That starts with your brand identity.
To schedule your free consultation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule your appointment online.