“There’s more power in authenticity. Don’t try to be Silicon Valley.” – Angela Benton.
‘Authentic’ branding is not manufactured. The lone opportunity for communities (entrepreneurial or otherwise,) to earn a branding of authenticity is to focus on the originality of what they produce, and the way in which they produce it.
The authentic brand is an endangered creature: undomesticated, devoid of the ability to breed in captivity. In the abundant wilderness of creative production is where authenticity (and the entrepreneur) wishes to be. It is where authentic risks must be taken to grow, where complementary strength exists between singularity and solidarity, and where parasitic emulation is left to lurk fearfully in the margins. It is a challenging, genuine environment in which ideas are galvanized, and self-awareness in product and process is mastered.
Humans evaluate authenticity in leadership, expertise, and intention by reviewing large bodies of data, very quickly. Brands, transitioning from wild unknown to marketplace, are evaluated as an extension of this entrenched social process. When pitched on the authenticity of anything, we subconsciously rifle through every silver-tongued politician, motivational speaker, and snake-oil salesmen on record, scanning our instincts for the ticks and whistles that scream, “CHEATER!” A worthy leader faces this test in the same way that an authenticated brand does: through proactively focusing on production rather than projection.
When suggesting the power of authenticity, Angela Benton advocates that entrepreneurs choose focal self-awareness in lieu of mimicry. As a community, Silicon Valley has demonstrated its ability to authenticate certain products/services, but has never done so through trying to achieve an ulterior identity. At their best, successful brands from Silicon Valley have focused on authenticity in the cohesion, quality, and innovation that makes their product possible… not on branding aspirations of being deemed as authentic.
Authenticity is inexorably connected with a known, distinct point of origin: an original virtue that cannot be faked. Leaders who wish to brand with authenticity must undertake the unavoidable, precursory commitment to creating something new.