In my work as a writer and branding consultant, I enable my clients to present themselves in the most authentic fashion possible to all stakeholders. Authenticity in this regard refers to offering an audience genuine, transparent and honest stories about a product, a service, or an experience.
I often quote a Danish futurist, Rolf Jensen, when explaining to clients and prospects why their stories can be more important than their product. Jensen observed, “A critical component of a great brand and the most essential element of its composition is that the experience of the brand must create an emotional connection with the consumer. Emotion is the one human ability that cannot be automated and companies need to embrace the notion that their stories are perhaps more important than their products.”
When recently reading Dr. Alice MIller's book The Drama of the Gifted Child - The Search for the True Self, it struck me that what I do in my business is something we probably need to do as individuals. My work revolves around helping corporations discover their true self and in turn present that to consumers in a powerful manner.
But what about learning how to express our own true selves to those closest to us? That's something I am learning more about every day. Dr. Miller writes, "There are, however, many people who can tolerate the loss of beauty, health, youth, or loved ones and, although they grieve, do so without depression. In contrast, there are those with great gifts, often precisely the most gifted, who do suffer from severe depression. For one is free from it only when self-esteem is based on the authenticity of one's own feelings and not on the possession of certain qualities."
I have worked with companies that struggle to understand why consumers don't intimately understand and accept their grandiose claims - the best, the fastest, the easiest, the cheapest! For many years corporations, large and small, felt that simply delivering a consistent message loudly again and again would lead consumers to blindly accept what they said was true.
How many of us do that in our own lives?
Simple repetition should convince people around us that what we are telling them about ourselves is true, authentic and genuine. Right?
Not so much.
Consider Dr. Miller again, "...it is impossible for the grandiose person to cut the tragic link between admiration and love. He seeks insatiably for admiration, of which he never gets enough because admiration is not the same thing as love. It is only a substitute gratification of the primary needs for respect, understanding, and being taken seriously..."
There is something remarkable that happens when we begin to accept our own truths, when we explore our own hidden corners. There's also something remarkable that happens when our business learning and personal journey begin to meld into a common perspective.
If you're considering therapy - personal or corporate - remember this: just as no individual should be fearful of learning what their authentic story is so should no corporation purposely avoid attempting to discover its authentic, true self. In both cases the exercise can be fraught with challenges but the outcome is inevitably beneficial.