Meet The New Authenticity

I’m a believer in the power of authenticity (as well as the greater power of inauthenticity). Fake blogs (aka flogs) were a bit of a scandal recently. Predictions for 2007 are focusing on this as well.

Companies not acting in an authentic and honest way will be subject to the wrath of the newfound consumer voice.

The buzzword for 2007 will be authenticity and it will become a driving force for businesses.

But what is authentic? What is inauthentic? The eye of the beholder makes the final determination.

Here’s a story: we were doing in-home interviews last month, getting reactions to product packages in order to understand the important visual elements and cues (in order to inform an upcoming redesign). One package had a label with a jagged edge, meant to suggest torn paper. It didn’t look like real torn paper, it looked like a manufactured torn edge. Some people really liked it, but one person called it as unacceptably fake. He pointed to another packaging label that he had purchased, as this one had a more realistic-looking torn edge, where the paper was frayed and small threads and fibers were visible.

He was very clear that both of these edge treatments were done by machine; that no paper was torn by hand. The vernacular of the jagged paper was completely unacceptable. The more realistic (as he imagined it) frayed edge was the right way to do it.

It’s a bit of a post-modern take on authenticity, where it’s more of aesthetic that supports suspension-of-disbelief, rather than some extremely absolutely True and Real version. What does the way it looks let me comfortably accept into my reality?

How do you know what is authentic? How do you know that what you are creating or selling is authentic?


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