In this company, I’m often referred to as “The Baby of Shaw + Scott.” To some, that might sound a bit offensive or inappropriate, especially within the workplace. However, in the context of our Shaw + Scott family, it couldn’t be more fitting. In fact, if I’m being honest, it’s a bit endearing—it serves as reminder not just of how inexperienced I am overall, but of how much there is still in front of me.
Let me explain—I’m 23. In terms of my career, even I can admit that I’m at the stages of infancy. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been tossed into a pool of professionalism to sink or swim, and there have been days when I wonder what a newbie like me has to offer. But when I finally stopped thrashing and put my feet down, I realized I could touch the bottom. I may not have 10+ years of marketing experience, but I’m eager, curious, and willing to take risks. Once I accepted who I was and what value I could bring to the company, things suddenly changed for the better.
Ever since I learned to embrace the value in being myself, I’ve started to take notice of brands who do the same. Many companies aim to look as polished and suited up as can be—and while this can be a good thing, it may not always be the best way to engage audiences. An ultra-professional tone can risk coming across as bland, inaccessible, or even elitist. By projecting an image that’s authentic to your company, your brand feels relatable, and approachable, to your customers.
Take for example innocent. They’re a company that sells smoothies, juices, and other beverages—I’m sure you can name several other brands with this same description off the top of your head. However, innocent’s authenticity helps them stand out. Their copy is blunt and witty, their graphics are simple and bubbly, and I bet you can’t scroll through their Twitter feed without a chuckle. Their website offers a compliment generator (“You are a walking high five”? I’ll take it!), and tells stories of their imperfections. I’ve read one of their packaging labels and actually laughed out loud. Innocent does a great job of embracing themselves authentically as a brand—lighthearted humor, flaws, and all.
Authenticity comes in many forms. Another great example is Everlane, an online-only clothing retailer that prides themselves on what they call “radical transparency.” Everlane does a great job of giving consumers an honest look at who they are and what they do. When purchasing an item on Everlane’s site, a customer can see how much it costs the company to produce the garment, how much it would cost in a traditional retail store, and how much Everlane sells it for. This breakdown includes material, hardware, labor, duties, and transport costs. I personally love how as a consumer, you’re able to see exactly how much this company is profiting off of your purchase; you know you’re not getting ripped off, and the honesty about where your dollars are going is refreshing. Another great example of Everlane’s authenticity is how their website offers visitors a virtual journey inside every one of their factories, so customers can learn exactly where and how items are made. It’s such a straightforward idea, but by embracing transparency and authenticity Everlane is changing the game of traditional retail.
These examples show us a simple but invaluable lesson in marketing. Whether you’re branding a big-name company or a tiny start-up, remember to be authentic. Show people the real you! You’ll have a much easier time connecting to customers. If you’re the new kid, be the new kid. If you’re a bit awkward and sometimes make mistakes, own it. Be exactly who you are and, like me, you’ll see things change for the better.