Authenticity in Business
Why do businesses not measure the value of their services or products? There are many factors, some good and best, others bad and worst. Let’s focus on what is under our control; that is how we create an authentic company. We must understand the value of defining our authentic brand and communicating it. This chapter will define authenticity and how it affects your company’s reputation, competitiveness and market share. We will challenge the conventional wisdom and offer a more economical way to measure success by creating shareholders’ value. Jordan Sudberg is “the authenticity man” and is willing to coach you. Since
Jordan wrote this chapter in December 2012, he has been coaching several CEOs, presenting his findings, and helping businesses become authentic.
Jordan began his quest for authenticity when he started his family business in 2006. He was young (24) and inexperienced in business planning, marketing, and knowing how to bring a product to market. However, he had the determination needed to overcome any obstacle that came his way.
What is authenticity? As Jordan explains, authenticity is not just about being genuine; you can fake that. Authenticity means to have your core values rooted in your brand – the way you come across to those who buy from you. And although authenticity is about your product, it also has to do with how you treat people. In other words, it’s about having a clear purpose and putting that purpose into action. It’s also about honesty and delivering on what you say you’ll do.
Sudberg believes that if someone alters their perception of their product or service after they’ve thought they had delivered what was promised or what was needed, then the customer would never return, creating a bad reputation for them.
Authenticity is about the feeling, not the actual product or service. It’s about values, ethics, and morals. For example, Nordstrom is considered one of America’s most authentic brands. How Nordstrom treats its customers is very important in creating value for them and their brand. He studied how many people returned to Nordstrom after a bad experience with another store that sold what Nordstrom did – clothes. The results were surprising! Eighty-seven percent of all customers said they’d return to Nordstrom again even if their experience with a competing store were better than at Nordstrom. The reason is Nordstrom’s values and ability to meet customers’ expectations.
Jordan Sudberg thinks that the most authentic companies in the world have a clear message. They have one or two values that they communicate to their clients, thus making sure that everyone is on the same page. For example, Google’s vision is: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” On the other hand, Facebook says: “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Both companies focus on what their clients want but do so from different perspectives.
When looking at a company’s brand, three critical elements determine whether it is authentic and wants to stay that way. These are the word, the mission, and the vision. These three fundamental things must be clear and consistent for communication to occur. Also, this information needs to be accessible so clients can fully understand what their brand stands for.