What’s the value of authenticity?
The recently revealed Caitlyn Jenner is about to learn … or maybe she already has, or already knew?
The lesson she’s imparting to the world now has been repeated in the past. It’s one from which any small business can benefit — remain true to yourself, because being your authentic self can be priceless.
Of course, it goes without saying that any small business owner understands the importance of being authentic.
A recent study on consumer attitudes toward authentic products confirms it. Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Glenn Carroll says in his findings:
“In advanced consumer economies, consumers are buying on the basis of their interpretation of the product and its story.”
In the first few days since she appeared for the first time publicly — on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine — Jenner’s personal profile and brand value have been raised exponentially. Essentially, Caitlyn Jenner is more popular now than she ever was as her former self, Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner.
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Just take a look at Caitlyn’s Twitter profile. It was created just recently but already has 2.49 million followers. And, to date, she’s only sent seven tweets!
She tweeted the following soon after her Twitter account was created:
Another Jenner world record, and at 65? Who’da thought! Humbled & honored to have reached 1M followers in 4 hrs. Thank you for your support.
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 1, 2015
Of course, a lot of those followers may not be genuine or supporters but, regardless, numbers like that are hard to ignore.
For Bruce Jenner, the limelight had passed and the luster of the Olympic gold had long since faded. That’s probably what Caitlyn wants, though. Because she’s made it clear that her success in the future will be based on reinventing her brand.
In an interview with ABC News several weeks before Vanity Fair, Jenner said:
“I am saying goodbye to people’s perception of me and who I am. I’m not saying goodbye to me because this has always been me.”
Jenner isn’t the first celebrity to have had to reinvent her brand in a way that at first some found unacceptable in order to create a more authentic image representing who they really are.
Look back to the career of Ellen DeGeneres. Before April 1997, DeGeneres was a fledgling stand-up comedienne and sitcom star.
Her show had even garnered serious accolades. Then, came the TIME magazine cover that stunned the country. The cover simply read, “Yep, I’m Gay” and since then, DeGeneres’ career has reached unthinkable heights. But that success was not instantaneous.
At first, DeGeneres’ decision to be more authentic had tough consequences.
DeGeneres had the character she played on the sitcom do the same as she had done, come out as gay. Sponsors and the network backed away and ‘Ellen’ was off the air.
Of course, it’s probably not fair to compare the two and their transformations. But remember, in 1997, Ellen’s revelation was considered a BIG story, too. Since then, DeGeneres has become a household name.
The authenticity of her new brand, like Jenner’s, is likely the reason.
According to the website BrandingforResults, DeGeneres’ latest round of success is largely due to her being true to herself. The site remarks:
“The greatest gift she’s given herself — and in turn to all of her millions of fans — is allowing herself to be herself — to be authentic.”
Small business owners must come to a similar decision.
In the beginning, it may be tough to let customers see your brand for what it is. That’s especially true if your brand, products and services are dramatically and unapologetically different than the competition.
But remember, staying true to your brand and to your authentic self has rewards too and can lead to success beyond what you’ve imagined.
Image: Caitlyn Jenner/Twitter