Authenticity means being true to yourself. Be sincere, say what you mean and mean what you say — and always portray yourself in a genuine manner.
As a startup, you may be a solopreneur. In this case, distinguishing between your business and your Self may be murkier than other businesses. That makes things easier in some ways because you can instill your brand with your personal values, such as honesty and integrity.
We spoke with George Kao, author of Principles of Authentic Business, who suggests marketing should be approached in a friendly manner in order to build authenticity. He explains that “rather than trying to persuade your audience you should align your communications to them, be consistent and remain transparent with your intentions”.
Be Authentic to Your Personal Brand Values
For startup businesses with several people, authenticity is closely related to the business brand and brand personality. Being true to your Brand Values is the key to unlocking authenticity in your marketing.
Undertaking brand personality exercises can help establish who your brand is if it were a person. This can be as simple as using tools like Pinterest and creating mood boards to compile and share attributes of your brand with those with whom you are working alongside.
Many brands have what’s known as a Brand Book. While you have probably heard of Brand Guidelines, these generally define visual assets like a logo, typefaces, and colours. The Brand Book typically contains data and deep insights about the target market: not purely demographic information but psychographic. Through imagery, the brand book shows how ideal customers see themselves, their hopes, values, aspirations, and habits. It also demonstrates how they connect with the brand’s value proposition. Developing the brand story and value proposition that builds a bridge to these people is the marketer’s job.
What word do you want to own?
A good question to ask is “if your brand could own one word, what would it be”? When the customer is choosing a healthcare related product, what do you want them to think? When a provider is making a referral choice, what do you want to come to their mind?
Neil Patel was recognised as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by Former US President Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. Neil says that authenticity works because:
- It develops your identity and builds influence
- It provides substance to your business, services, and products
- It enables people to relate to your business
- It helps people understand how what you offer is of benefit to them
- It tells people that what you offer is of high quality
- It marks you out as a reliable, trustworthy company
- It encourages engagement and can turn audiences into advocates
So how do you develop authenticity?
Be clear about your personal brand values. Here is how you can develop authenticity:
- Be real and truthful
- Be charitable
- Be consistent
- Back up what you say
- Don’t guess what your audiences want. Find out.
- Be responsive
- Respect privacy
- Be accountable
- Highlight your reputation
- Nurture your following
Most importantly don’t make promises in your marketing that you can’t live up to. This is a fundamental rule of doing business. If you say you are going to do something, you have to be able to do it.
Be consistent with the truth and be real about the outcomes you say you can deliver.
Theranos: a cautionary tale
If you don’t know the story of Theranos it’s a good one to look up. The company made a lot of unfounded claims about their product and became a unicorn of the health tech startup
world in Silicon Valley before being exposed by The Washington Post. Once that happened it didn’t take long for things to crumble.
When working with marketing partners ensure that you perform due diligence and use your common sense to ensure that service providers, who are delivering services as an extension of your own, are also being authentic.
Top photo by Fares Nimri on Unsplash