Authenticity : The True North of Good Branding

As reputation keepers, much jargon continually tries to make its way into our vocabulary and play deck. Some of it’s for a season, but some stand the test of time and become best practices. Being authentic is one of the latter.

Merriam-Webster defines authentic as “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.” Also, “not false or imitation; REAL.” When thinking of how this applies to brands, organizations, communications strategy and the real life of companies and their people (both internal and external audiences), this word among all others is a moral compass for distinguishing the good from the great.

At the recent Southern Coterie Summit in Sea Island, Georgia, authenticity rose as one of the major themes among those of us in the business of being creative. From presenters who represented brands that included Draper James and Hampden Clothing to Hoffman Media and Gal Meets Glam, over and again, everyone kept coming back to the basics of Socrates’ ancient advice to us: “Know thyself.”

Lydia Mansel of Draper James presents at The Southern Coterie Summit. Photo Credit- The Southern C

Practically speaking, how do you know how you’re faring as it relates to authenticity? Here’s my quick litmus test.

  • Authentic = Connected to your WHY. Are you living out the core values of your brand? …what you stand for and why you started this thing in the first place? Do you regularly communicate that – in big and small ways – to your team, your clients and customers, and to the outside world?
  • Authentic = I have a plan but I keenly listen and evolve. We live in a real world, and it’s dynamic, not stuck in a planner. So, embrace that. Always be ready and willing to listen to what your team, clients and target audience are saying, discussing, and gravitating to/away from, and then ask yourself what you can learn from that.
  • Authentic = Having a voice. This is important. If you believe in things/causes/people, how does that play out (or what opportunities do you have to allow it to play out) with purpose? Never fear your voice.
  • Authentic = Owns our mistakes. Pride is a silent killer. Be a leader as a person and in your industry by acknowledging that YES!, even you, too, get it wrong sometimes, and that you’re sorry. You know better now, and you’ll do better next time. Asking for forgiveness is powerful, humbling, and will keep you in healthy balance with the communities that matter to you.

Jamie Prince, Flourish PR

Jamie Prince is founder + principal of flourish, an award-winning marketing, public relations and events firm in Greenville, South Carolina, that specializes in real estate, professional services, and non-profit success. You can follow flourish on Instagram (@startflourishing), or on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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