“Authenticity” is not a good standard

I will go ahead and say that I really dislike the word “authenticity”.  I find that people often ask gauge authenticity by how successful they are at not being fake or contrived.  It’s like saying you are a good student because you’re not fluking.


According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of authentic is as follows:

: real or genuine : not copied or false

: true and accurate

: made to be or look just like an original


The problem with gauging your marketing plan based on authenticity is that so often no one know what is the “original”.  Most brands haven’t first defined what they stand for.  Everyone ends up having a different sense of what the brand is about.  Everyone has different view of “real”.  On the other hand, most people have a sense of what the brand is not.  So, what ends up happening is that people gauge authenticity by gauging if they’re off-brand.  But without a solid grounding of what is “real” and “original”, authenticity is just a word that’s thrown around.

Instead of asking if you’re being “authentic”, why not just ask if you’re living your brand value?

Why use the word “authentic” as substitute of what your brand should stand for?

If you know what your brand stands for, use that as the gauge.

If your brand is a brand that is designed to speak to Middle America, just ask if this would resonate with Middle America.  Don’t ask if this is authentic.

If your brand is a brand that’s simple and to-the-point, just ask if a piece of collateral is simple and to-the-point.  Don’t ask if it’s authentic to the brand.

Say what you actually mean, assuming you know what you actually want to say.


Photo credit: Trevor

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