“Authenticity” is a word that marketers are phasing out of their campaigns as quickly as they initially threw it in.

Why? It’s being overused, and, more importantly, it’s being overused incorrectly.

The research shows that Millennials, in particular, are looking to buy from companies who are authentic. Companies, naturally, then hurried to throw words like “honest,” “authentic,” “open book,” and other thesaurus favorites into their literature and advertising.

Bam, authenticity taken care of. Bring in that sweet, sweet Millennial consumer market.

But the companies that have been approaching authenticity this way are completely missing the point.

You can’t just tell someone that you are authentic any more than you can tell someone you’re trustworthy. You have to prove your authenticity. You have to earn the title.

Similarly, but on a smaller scale, entrepreneurs who are concerned with their personal brands are overly focused on how to “be real.” The result has been the awkward overuse of terms like “gangster,” “hotness,” and variations of things that rhyme with both “rich” and “bitch.” People who have never used curse words before in their lives are trying to integrate them into their copywriting.

Every coaching website looks the same: a smiling woman in trendy clothes with her hands thrown in the air, surrounded by shades of pink and purple–not because she necessarily thought those colors or style through for her brand, but because that’s what every other female coach is doing.

Why?

Authenticity can’t be used like a branding buzzword in order for it to work as a marketing tool. In fact, if you treat authenticity as a marketing tool, it will be clear to everyone that it simply fell into your lap as a buzzword. It’s circular, and it sucks for everyone involved.

Find the balance between what works in marketing and business right now and what works for you as a person and as a company. Don’t emulate Starbucks or Apple just because they’re leaders in their industry; they became industry leaders by creating their own unique brands and business models (that are being studied in every business school program around the world!)

Learn from others’ authenticity, but don’t mimic it. Find your own voice. Use it.


This post has been reposted with permission. It was originally published on Mallie Rydzik Dot Com.

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AuthorMallie Rydzik