First and foremost I’m going to start this out by saying that authenticity is important and it’s not just a lameass buzzword. It is something that we have come to expect from businesses both large and small.
I’m going to start this post off with a short personal (horror) story about authenticity and why it is so damn important. Let’s be clear. This is not gossip, it is to make a point. I have changed the names of the people involved and will not be sharing anything more.
A Short Story
Jane hosts a conference and it looks amazeballs. Like truly somewhere everyone should go. Somewhere that I wanted to go. And a lot of it had to do with the fact that Jane was just so welcoming and friendly in her online presence! Her presence made me and probably countless others want to be not just an attendee to her conference, but her friend if possible.
So you can imagine my surprise when I reached out to Jane to ask her a question and she was super not nice to me that I was taken aback. I knew that people did this. I grew up in the heyday of chatrooms. I knew that people weren’t always who they said they were online, but I had been fooled by her. All in all, it didn’t just leave me taken aback, it left a terrible sense of ick with me about not just her but her conference.
Months later, I was on a call with Beth.
Beth was a new friend I had made and we wound up spilling some not so hot experiences we had with other creatives. And for anyone who thinks that people don’t talk, we do. I shared my experience with Jane and for some reason, though Beth knew her, she didn’t seem surprised. In fact, I recall her nodding sadly. Apparently, Jane had a reputation for being ugly with people and I had no fucking clue. I was going to drop thousands to go do the thing then being told that she was not that person at all. Well it stung. And what shocked me most of all was Beth’s reaction.
I knew right then that I was done trying to be someone else if I had ever tried. People were getting my no makeup wearing, dandelion looking, swearing and cat loving self.
What Authenticity Really Is
Reliability, dependability, trustworthiness, credibility; accuracy, truth, veracity, fidelity.
These are all synonyms for being authentic. Those are the kinds of things that I want to be known for personally and I’m sure that you do too. But authenticity as it applies to the creative business owner is just as simple as you being you. The real you; even if you’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
Because you’re not going to be and that is more than ok. That is a good thing. That means that you’re reaching the people who vibe best with you. And those people are the people who buy from you. Because people buy from real live people.
Let’s Not Be Jane
While it’s easy to say boo about Jane, she isn’t the only one out there making this mistake in her branding. And while that is super easy to say, being Jane is way easier than being us. Being us means that we are left wide open to attack from the dreaded internet troll. Being us means that we might come out of Instagram live with a vulnerability hangover and need to nap and bubble bath.
And while there is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, the biggest thing to remember about an online brand is that if you’re going to put a best foot forward, make sure it’s yours.