Last night I was one of the fortunate 120,000 to see Adele during the Brisbane leg of her world tour. I’ve been a fan of her music since I first heard her dulcet tones warbling over the wireless almost ten years ago.
Last night I also became a huge fan of Adele the woman.
While her success is in no doubt largely due to her phenomenal voice and her beautiful songs, it is her authenticity that, to me, truly makes her a star.
Her banter during last night’s show, and during others I’ve seen televised, comes across as genuine, heartfelt and honest. Her unapologetic dropping of the f-bomb. Her stories around heartbreak and the overwhelming love she has for her son. Her confession of her secret twitter account because she was constantly getting into trouble with management for being “too real” on the official account – not sure how that is a problem (unless they don’t like the f-bombs!), but she didn’t let it stop her!
Adele’s down-to-earth appeal breaks down the barriers that many celebrities struggle with. Certainly she struggled last night with the heat as sweat poured from her face – was anyone else wishing they were nearer the fans she requested on stage? And let’s not forget the ginormous bugs that flew into her mid-banter – who else loved the girly squeals and dance of horror? I know I’ve done that dance many times. Giant flying critters freak me out! That they freaked Adele out too just made me love her more – it was a bonding moment I felt I shared with her (and I know, she has no idea who I am!).
And then there are her lyrics. Adele writes from the heart and they show her vulnerability. They reflect her life, her loves, her pain, her joy. There are few people who haven’t had the pain of heartbreak or the joy of falling in love.
Adele famously said “Fame is not real, so how am I supposed to write a real record for anyone to enjoy if I’m living a very fake life?”
So why is authenticity so important in business?
To start with, it’s a lot harder to put up a fake front. Being yourself is sooooo much easier! Whether you’re a sole trader or a big brand. Plus, people aren’t stupid. They know when you’re being fake. Your voice becomes brittle and tentative, your words don’t quite ring true. And it’s really, really hard to keep up a pretence, especially over a long period of time. And if you don’t believe me, just watch the fakeness stripped away on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!
Research in the Journal of Business Research, which found that consumers see three dimensions to brand authenticity: heritage, sincerity and commitment to quality.
We need to remember that people do business with people they know, like and trust. When you are being authentic, people relate. It’s easier to build a relationship on trust when you show your true personality. This goes for people and for brands.
8 ways to be authentic in your communication
Authenticity consists of four dimensions: continuity, originality, reliability and naturalness. Ways that brands can demonstrate this include:
- Be real – show your true self, whether this is as an individual or as a brand. Know your values and what you stand for and share them
- Do what you promise – if you promise service excellence then respond to emails, tweets and Facebook and other social media mentions. Your customers expect this!
- Listen to your audience and be responsive – don’t just talk at them. Engage with them on social media, encourage them to converse with you, acknowledge and act on criticisms – even if it’s just a simple “thank you for your feedback”.
- Be honest about your products and services. If you’re a service provider, don’t accept a client if you don’t have the time to do the work and do it well, if you have a product fail, let people know. Don’t be Volkswagen.
- If you make a mistake, OWN IT. Think about the brand damage caused to Lorna Jane over the fit-model/receptionist ads. They didn’t apologise, they tried to explain themselves. It went down like a lead balloon.
- Don’t use corporate jargon – use language your market understands.
- Be consistent with your messaging – don’t say one thing yet do another. I spend some time at a company that espoused integrity and trust, yet there was a rampant culture of bullying. Talk about a massive disconnect!
- Be original – as Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.
How are you showing authenticity in your business?