Why Authenticity Matters Part 2 | For Business
For the record, again, I hate the word “authenticity.” I talked about why in Part 1, along with how I still use the word, because I find there to be no other word that can naturally and equally take its place — a very important place in the decision-making hearts of consumers.
At Drawn, we often talk about the value of winning over loyalty: If a customer becomes a fan, that conversion brings all kinds of business efficiency — the kind of natural and honest efficiency that is easy to grow and carries a lot of positive energy. This is quite a densely packed claim, so I’ll try to unpack my thoughts here.
Alignment > Consistency > Reputation > Trust
It is true in all kinds of disciplines that alignment generates a lot of efficiencies. If every part of an engine is aligned as it should be, they’ll all work together in a smooth and efficient rhythm. And the same is true in business: When everything is aligned and the whole crew is rowing in the same direction, at the same tempo, we gain a lot of business efficiency.
I’ve found that when I share this alignment concept with new prospective partners that it is relatively easy for business people to understand the business importance of alignment for assembly lines and fulfillment chains, but they struggle to see the business value that comes from a brand that is equally in alignment. We can all recognize how alignment is important to making sure that all of the cogs of a machine fit together, but it is more difficult to quantify and prioritize the value of brand alignment in the eyes of their consumers. These consumers who are buying our goods and services expect alignment in every experience because alignment proves a set of consistent expectations, and consistency earns their trust.
In 2013, we designed our first restaurant: a pub with 81 taps and counter-service ordering. While we had never designed such an experience before, we followed our same design thinking process by first establishing empathy for patrons. We didn’t just design something cool or unique; instead, we set out to understand what would make for the very best pub experience by putting ourselves in the shoes of future customers. We journey mapped our way from the office to the pub for a meeting, from home to the pub to meet a date, from the pub with friends to a concert down the street.
This process informed every aspect of our design — the location we chose, the patron’s experience of entering and hanging up a wet jacket, the width of the stairs, the long community table surrounded by small, intimate booths. We set out to design such a curated and thoughtful experience that by the time a patron got up to the counter and was ready to place an order, they had already walked through a series of consistent micro-experiences that they probably couldn’t articulate. These micro-experiences contributed to the patron’s growing feeling that this entire experience would be thoughtfully curated. As the patron sensed all of the time and attention that had gone into creating this particular experience, they could also assume, even subconsciously, that the same level of attention was paid to the selection of beverages. And they could assume that if they asked for suggestions from the bartender, they would receive an equally thoughtful response.
In other words, we designed this series of micro-experiences to create an overall experience that was consistently thoughtful, which would build an exceptional reputation and, eventually, win over a patron’s trust because they felt cared for on a very gut level.
Trust > Loyalty > Efficiency > Momentum
When patrons begin to trust the experiences that we design for them, we find ourselves having crested that particular hill and then begin to experience the easy downhill with them. Once we have earned the trust of patrons, they begin to share their experiences with others. And as they return to the pub and affirm their trust with more positive experiences, they continue to deepen their loyalty and share more freely with others, becoming an organically cultivated ambassador for the brand.
This ambassadorship is incredibly valuable for a brand because it brings with it efficiency. Rather than dumping huge budgets into advertising campaigns, brands that build great experiences can have fans do the selling for them. Now, obviously, this formula is too simplistic, and a certain balance is necessary — but the more the scales tip in the favor of loyal fans promoting the brand simply because they felt a connection with it, the more efficient growth becomes, creating this natural momentum that grows without the need for a constant feeding of the advertising beast.
Drawn vs. Chased
We named our agency for our philosophy that rather than chasing for attention, we can instead be more effective by building brands that naturally and effortlessly draw people in with consistent and aligned experiences — a series of micro-experiences that slowly converts people from customers to fans to ambassadors. And while I hate the word authenticity, we can’t get away from the fact that at the heart of this philosophy is the need for brands to be authentic — to be aligned and consistent, such that all who engage with the brand feel this level of curatedness and thoughtfulness in every experience that they have with the brand. This authenticity carries a lot of efficiency — business efficiency — that is every bit as valuable as those forms of alignment that are easier to see.