Authenticity is an issue that so many businesses battle -- and nearly as many are reluctant to admit it. Wouldn’t it be easy if we were all just building products and services for ourselves? Our own families in our own neighborhoods?
But the truth is, working to understand the customer is a complicated and constant task. That’s especially true when your consumer base is wide-ranging -- you’re attempting to cohesively market toward a huge swath of all different types of people.
That’s all we could think about as we visited Orvis’ HQ in Vermont. For decades upon decades, Orvis has polished its reputation as a premier high-end sporting goods company. And as soon as you enter the Orvis campus, you feel that.
The entire beautiful green campus, despite being a place of business, is designed to promote its core mission: Get outdoors and enjoy life. We even did our Business Impact interview with CMO Dave Finnegan outside in the crisp fall air.
Think of the brands you appreciate the most, especially the ones you’ve loved since childhood. The Walt Disney Company is a classic example. Yes -- no doubt about it -- it’s a profit-driven corporation. And it’s run by adults, not children.
But the brand has done a masterful job staying true to its image and showcasing leaders who embody its spirit. Let’s put it this way: Rupert Murdoch was probably never in the running to become the face of Disney.
Demonstrating authenticity is trickier than it sounds. It can easily come off as corny and over-the-top, completely undermining the entire goal. That’s one example of a discussion that unfolds at trade shows, where customer experience experts like Dave gather to share ideas and talk about what works -- and what really, really doesn’t.
At trade shows, people are usually eager to share their own learnings. And really, that’s just another element of authenticity: Human-to-human discussions about the business, about branding, about customers. When people are working together in a genuine way, that absolutely bleeds into the brand. Customers can sense it.
The cross-channel customer experience excellence we’ve seen from Orvis is a product of the innovation, collaboration and genuine love for people have for this brand. The innovation comes from Orvis’ stellar employees.
The collaboration comes from within and outside the company -- insights from other industry leaders at trade shows have certainly helped the team fine-tune their concepts and designs -- and the genuine love is a variable that can’t be overlooked. It ties everything together with that critical sense of authenticity.
If you haven’t yet made it out to a trade show for your industry, that’s step one. Start meeting people who truly live the products they sell. They’ll help you better understand your own business, and their passion will reinforce the love you feel for your own work.
To learn more about The Orvis Company’s brand authenticity views, watch Episode Two of our Business Impact Workshop.