THIS WEEK I had the opportunity to participate in a very interesting discussion around the topic of brand-building.  This was an EntreprenerdsEntrepreNerds meeting focused on the books Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out by Marc Ecko and Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger.  Both were worth the read and had some good lessons.

What struck me most profoundly was digging into the topic of authenticity.  There’s actually a number of interesting dimensions to this concept:

  • Is the actual experience of customers consistent with your “brand promise”?
  • Are all your employees on the same page with how to best deliver this experience?
  • Do your employees feel like they’re working in a place where they don’t have to constantly hide their true passions?
  • Are you, as owner, playing out your life’s purpose through your business?
  • Do your partners reinforce your brand more than they detract from it?

It turns out that this is a very rich area, potentially with many pitfalls.

Here’s the fastest way to deep authenticity:  Build it as the foundation of your business.

  1. Have a deep personal conviction about the kind of company you’re building.
  2. Only take on partners who share that passion – they believe in your WHY.
  3. Hire employees and contractors who are aligned, even to the extent that it may be more important than their technical proficiency.

This creates a self-reinforcing system, where all the parts help keep each other aligned.

Does this mean that you won’t fly your business into the ground?  No, you still have to profitably serve a customer need.  But it dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll stick to the vision and not lose sight of why you’re doing this in the first place.