“Authenticity can’t be replicated or faked. You’re either real or you’re not.” – Bibi Bourelly (singer/songwriter).
Sometimes companies are so keen to get or impress new customers or employees that they overstate what they do or how they actually operate.
This is why, when we first interact and get closer to them (or a new person), we can be very cautious, skeptical or apprehensive to believe what we are being told is real. We need a few experiences to make sure it’s not a façade.
We want to ensure what we’re being sold is true – and not a mixed message or overstatement. We do this to avoid disappointment or frustration. If we’ve already signed a contract, we do it to avoid massive amounts of pain or disruption.
And it’s why people like to affirm, through feedback from other customers, that a company is what they represent. We value referrals from friends and family, and online reviews for companies like Airbnb, Amazon and Yelp. This is also why some people try to game that system.
People are loyal to some incredibly successful brands because they consistently give us what we want – not just from one experience or ten but hundreds. The more positive our experiences the more loyal we are because, deep down inside, we can trust them and feel safe from frustration or disappointment.
This is brand authenticity or WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) at work.
Think about Starbucks or Apple. Think about your favourite local restaurant, your siblings or coworkers or your best friend. Through hundreds of experiences, you know what you can expect – both good and bad.
People are also willing to try new brands or work with new companies because they’re open to a different and, hopefully, positive experience.
In my work and personal relationships, the people I trust the most are those who don’t over-package. They are easier to trust more quickly because they are open and transparent – and at the heart of two of our firm’s core values:
- Tell it like it is
- Do what you say and then some.
I’m not expecting every company or human to be perfect, but it makes it much easier when people are on the same frequency.
And just because someone is open and transparent doesn’t mean that they’re not misrepresenting who they are or what their company is about, but it is easier to determine that when they share authentically.
In the end, psychological comfort is the root of trust in all relationships. We trust brands and people that consistently behave like we expect.
- When you think about your company, where are the opportunities for more consistency between what you say and what people experience? Consider this for both your customers and for your employees.
- What can you do about this?
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