The Authenticity Gap

If you are familiar with the practice and concept of meditation, you may have heard this statement (of a version thereof) before: Everything you need lies within.

This is true not just for individuals on a spiritual level, but for brands and organizations.

Often when we are looking to grow our companies, we begin searching outside for ways to look bigger, better, and cooler. We want to project the most attractive images of our organizations to grow our audiences, but we don't always take into account how the personalities and messages behind our brands line up with these projections. 

In the current age of authenticity, this strategy fails.

This week, global firm FleishmanHillard released a study that found, among other things, that the leading brands in the world are failing to resonate with consumers due to what FH calls an "authenticity gap".

The study finds that consumers judge companies primarily on the integrity and behavior of their leaders, the social impacts the company is having, and the way they interact with their customers. FH's Reputation Managment head, Marjorie Benzkofer, is quoted as saying very plainly, "Companies need to be able to quickly translate what impact rapidly developing political and societal issues may have on their company. They must understand their audiences’ many expectations and opinions, which are increasingly divided, in order to determine what actions to take, or to choose not to take, that can either accelerate business success or increase barriers. To do this more effectively, companies need to better define and reinforce their relevance to society."

That's a tall order, but one that can be achieved by going within your organization and reflecting back on your core. What's your story? Why are you doing what you're doing? What impact do you want to have on the world and why? What are you saying to your audience? Do your actions align with your image?

Do you feel your company measures up in authenticity or do you have work to do? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think.