1.2.22 About Us – Authenticity and Personality


Hi, I’m David Bell. In this lecture, we’re going to talk about authenticity and personality. And we’re going to break it up into two pieces. We’re going to focus first on authenticity and personality of founders by thinking about the problem that founders are solving. And also the authenticity and personality of the founders themselves. And then secondly, we’ll get into the brand or service or the product. The personality of that about creating authenticity and transparency. I’m going to share with you some research on the difference between perception and reality. Something we have to overcome. Also talk about what the five dimensions are of brand personality based on some research. And then finally, we’re going to talk about the narrative and the personality in the digital economy and what makes that different. So, let’s get started right away, and here’s the question I’d like us to all have in mind. I’m sure many of you out there who are founders have gone through this process, either explicitly or implicitly. But it’s something I always like to begin with when I think about the authenticity of the problem. So in order to succeed in our startups as entrepreneurs, we need to solving a problem that’s a real problem that people actually care about. And so one of my favorite examples from the old economy. I’m going to do some new economy ones as well, is Starbucks. So Howard Schultz, when he started Starbucks, happened to be on vacation in Italy. And those of you who might have been to Italy or continental Europe, you’ll notice in Italy, when people consume coffee, they tend to consume it outdoors or outside the home in cafes. There’s a barista, it’s a high service experience and so on. And so Mr. Schultz had the experience in Italy of getting his coffee from a barista, learning about the different kinds of coffee, macchiato, cappuccino and so on, in a very pleasant environment. When he was back in the United States he noticed also that Americans drank a lot of coffee, almost as much as Italians did. However, Americans bought their coffee in the supermarket and it tended to be rather low-quality coffee that they consumed at home. So he asked himself a very simple and a very profound question, what’s wrong with the status quo? So the status quo in the United States is people drinking bad coffee at home. In Italy, they drink good coffee outdoors and so that was the notion that he brought when he founded Starbucks. And the idea of Starbucks is the third place. The first place is your home. The second place is your work. Both of those places are getting busier in our lives. And the third place is Starbucks, where all your cares float away on the top of a latte. Okay, so I really want to encourage you to think about the problem that you’re solving is a legitimate problem that people might actually care about. So, in addition to thinking about a legitimate problem that Mr. Howard Schultz did when he founded Sarbucks. Sometimes, particularly now in the digital economy, we want to challenge the status quo. Why is it that people pay so much, for example, for a particular product? And this was the question that four students, who are MBA students here at the Wharton school asked themselves way back in 2010. So, one of the students, Dave, had just came back from a vacation and he left his glasses in the back pocket of the plane. In the seat pocket, perhaps some of you have done the same thing. And it turned out that the glasses that he owned were very expensive. They had cost him about $500 US, and he was complaining to one of his fellow students, I can’t afford to replace my glasses. They’re so expensive and now I’m a student, I don’t really have the budget. And the student that he turned to, his name is Neil, another co-founder of Warby Parker, Neil had happened to work for many years before coming to business school and not for profit. And Neil, working for not for profit giving people glasses, knew that there was no way that glasses should cost $500. So, he turned to Dave and he asked rhetorically, why should a pair of glasses cost the same as an iPhone? And that was a question that they posed to themselves to challenge the status quo and they realized, without going into all of the details, that this one large company based in Europe that controls a lot of what goes on in the eye-wear industry. They do a lot of the manufacturing, the licensing of all the different brands. So, if your glasses say Tiffany, Dolce & Gabbana, the brand name doesn’t really matter. They’ve been manufactured under licensed by a large company called like Exotico. Also happens to own a lot of the distribution channel. So the students asked themselves, why is this product so expensive, and furthermore, why is nobody buying the product online? At the time that they started the company, only about 1% of all eye-wear that was sold in the United States was sold through the online channel. So what they did is they built an authentic digital brand, using the name here will be Parker, this is going to be important for our discussion later on. I’m going to come to this in a couple of moments. But when we think about a brand, a brand needs to deliver at least three benefits. A functional benefit, does something for you. An emotional benefit that makes you feel something, and a symbolic benefit. If you associate yourself with that brand, what does it say about you, so hold that thought. We’re going to pick that up in a couple of moments and relate back to Warby Parker. The third thing that’s interesting for you now as a founder is thinking about your own personality that’s very, very much part of the brand. And what I want to share with you here is a fascinating story. You can go to the link on the slide for Michelle Phan. So Michelle is a pretty well known entrepreneur here in the beauty space in the United States. And prior to starting her company, she was just somebody who was kind of interested in beauty. She used to take videos of herself putting on various kinds of makeup. Upload those into YouTube. You can see now they’re on the link. Her videos have been watched over a billion times, lifetime views. And there was a beautiful quote from a recent article in Forbes, I’ve provided the link for you there. It says, I didn’t have a roadmap, I just did it because it was meaningful to me and I wanted to disrupt the beauty industry. So now on the digital economy, all of us as entrepreneurs have a voice with which to share our passion and to create an authentic story that potentially can resonate with others. So before we continue on to the next piece of content, just hold those three thoughts. Am I solving an authentic problem? Do I have an authentic way of changing what’s going on potentially in an existing industry? And third, and most important, is there something authentic about me, as the person who’s solving that particular problem? And now, as we continue on to think about this concept of authenticity. One little speed bump I want to put in the road here. Something for you to think about that’s very, very important particularly now in the digital economy. And this here is the issue of perception. So, the way your authenticity potentially can be perceived. How it’s received by customers and also the broader community. So I’m going to share with you some results of a really fascinating research study that makes this point. And so what you’re seeing here on the slide is you’re seeing customers making evaluations of products. In this case it’s beer, maybe you know some of the brands, without any information. So what do I mean by that? This is a taste test of beer that people are doing, drinking beer out of paper cups where there’s no information about the brand of beer that they’re drinking. Now, there are six brands, the first one is a brand called Pabst, if you live in the United States you’ll know some of these, Colt 45, Coors, Miller Lite, and Budweiser, and then there’s another brand, Guinness. And what consumers in this survey were asked to do was to drink two different beers from two different paper cups labeled A and B. Let’s say Pabst and Colt 45. And then answer the question, how similar they thought the products were to each other. Now, what happened as a result of doing this exercise when people were drinking the product in the paper cup. They tended to think that all of those beers on the left were basically the same. The only one that they could see was different was the darker one, which is Guinness. Which ends up way out to the side on the map, after the mathematical analysis is done. Now, what’s important here is note the change that we observe once the people in the experiment are drinking the beer out of the actual bottle. So when the beer is drank out of the bottle, low and behold, people think that Colt 45 and Budweiser are actually very, very different from each other. And so, what this is telling you is that the perception that’s created through the marketing, through the communication and particularly in the digital age, this was pre-digital, will have a huge impact on the way your product is perceived, your brand is perceived and you are perceived as well. So now let’s move and think about one of the perceptions that we want to generate, one of the norms that we must have in mind when we think about authenticity. So, our brand, whether it’s Warby Parker providing eye-wear, or whether it’s Howard Schultz providing coffee, or whether it’s your startup. You need to think about what’s the functional benefit I’m solving for customers. What am I delivering? So Warby Parker, for example, is delivering eye-wear at a good price point. What’s the emotional benefit that I get? Well, if I wear Warby Parker glasses, I might feel somewhat stylish. What’s the symbolic benefit that I get if I associate myself with this brand? Other people might perceive me as someone who’s rather sensible with my money. I don’t spend $500 on sunglasses or glasses, I only spend $100. So functional, emotional and symbolic value is very, very important. However, in the digital economy there are some other things that we layer on top here. We also need our brains to be transparent. We need to generate true authenticity. We need to have empathy for customers, and we need to personalize what we’re doing. And we’re going to go into some research on that in a moment. So what is it that we can do to be transparent, authentic, empathetic, and also to generate a brand personality. I’m going to show an example, and then I’m going to have all of you do an exercise in a little bit. And this is something right at the end of the slide that I’d like you to think about. The idea that if you create the right kind of authenticity, something good might happen on your behalf. So let me share an example, one of my favorite examples. So not so long ago, there was an airline here in the United States called JetBlue. Some of you might know it. You can look it up if you’re not in the United States, JetBlue. And what JetBlue did is they ran a promotion over Twitter, with $600 you could fly for an entire month around the whole of the United States as much as you like. Kind of like eating at a buffet, but just for travel. And it turned out that this was a very successful promotion, and in addition, there was a fellow who happened to be raising money for cancer. He was traveling to 29 cities in 29 days, doing a very noble thing, raising money for cancer. And he happened to take advantage of this promotion that was out there in the digital space. And as a result, this ended up being a store in its own right which further promoted the sales of the airline tickets for the company. So again, this is not guaranteed. But we want to think about what’s the possibility through a transparent and authentic marketing actions for something good like that to happen. Okay, so let’s move on now onto elements of personality. This, I find absolutely fascinating. It’s based on some research where people were asked questions about personalities of brands in a sort of indirect way. So, if I were the researcher, I might ask you the following question.
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Apple is somebody I would like to introduce to my mother. So, Apple the brand, I would like to introduce to my mother. And I would ask you to agree or disagree with that statement. One, you strongly disagree. Four, you’re kind of neutral. And yeah, seven, I would love to introduce the brand Apple to my mother. So, the researcher who did this study, Jennifer Ockert, Stanford University, asked these kinds of questions. And then after doing this repeatedly, she found that there were five dimensions of personality that a brand could use to differentiate itself, so let me run through them. The first is the element of sincerity, so certain brands might be seen as very sincere, brands that would like to be trusted, financial institutions. And the second dimension of personality is competence. So certain brands like McKinsey Consulting for example would like to be perceived as competent. The third dimension is excitement. So maybe a brand like Virgin America would like to be seen as exciting. Sophistication is the fourth dimension. Perhaps a brand like Aston Martin or Tiffany’s. And then finally, sort of rugged or macho. These would be brands like Harley Davidson. And so the idea here is that you could create either an association with a real person, or a cartoon, or an object, or something that would indicate this element of personality. Now, what’s also interesting about this research is it was conducted primarily in the United States. So if you’re not in the United States, you might say, well, do these same five dimensions hold up in every culture? Well, it turns out, the answer to that question is no. So, if you go for example to Asia, in particular to Korea, Japan and also to China, what you find is that one of these dimensions of brand personality becomes less relevant. Now, I’ll let you look at the list. Maybe you can think about which one it is. Okay, hold that thought, and now I’ll just tell you the one that’s less relevant in those cultures is the rugged or macho element of personality. In those cultures, what becomes more important is the personality dimension of peacefulness and sincerity. And here’s my favorite one. I’m agnostic about this, but I find it quite amusing. If you go into Latin [COUGH] excuse me, Latin cultures, so you go to South America, you go to southern Europe. You find that also one of these dimensions disappears. Now, this is based on research. I’m not just making this up. So, I’ll let you think about which one of those. And, it’s the dimension of competence. And those cultures having a competent brand is not necessarily that critical for authenticity and personality. What’s important in those cultures is brands that have passion and if you lived in those countries or you visited, you could understand that. So, let me now show you a real example of an actual brand that applied this, so you can get a sense of how this works. So, how about, we use personality? Well, let’s focus on a financial services firm called MetLife. Some of you will know the brand, you can look it up on the internet. Now, this company did some research. And they found that, when they did research, customers had the following perception. They found that the institution was cold, it was bureaucratic, and it only cared about money. Now, of course, what MetLife would like is it would like for their customers to feel that they are as sincere as a brand, and that they have a different kind of outreach to customers. So what they did is they developed a personality around sincerity, using the cartoon figure there, Snoopy from Charlie Brown. Some of you will know who Snoopy is. The rest of you can look him up on the internet. What they found is after developing this campaign, the company was then perceived as warm, friendly and caring about customers, fascinating. So that’s how personality works. So I hope that gets some thoughts going for all of you out there as to how you could apply personality to your own brands. And now, to bring everything together that we’ve been thinking about so far in terms of authenticity, personality, asking the right questions, sending the right signals to customers. I’d like you to watch the video, and as you go through the Warby Parker video, I want you to take some notes? What are some things are going on in the video that convey authenticity, that convey transparency. And that signal to customers that this is the brand that generates functional, emotional and symbolic values. So, I’ll give you a couple clues you might like to think about the occupation of the person in the video. You might like to think about who’s delivering the product and I’ll leave it at that. I’m sure you can come up with other stuff, and maybe we’ll have a dialogue about that. So as many things as you can in the video that indicate authenticity and transparency.
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>> This man needs glasses.
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He has very high standards and articulate taste.
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Boutiques are expensive and have left him disappointed.
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And with discount retailers. The results are unpredictable.
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So he’s trying Warby Parker, the virtual try-on tool gives him recommendations to fit his face. And with the home try-on program, he gets five pairs shipped to his home for free. [MUSIC] He can spend quality time with each pair, and pick the very best one.
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The vintage-inspired frames are handsome and well built.
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It’s very important to find the right frames and when it happens, he just sends Warby Parker his prescription, and his frames come back lenses in for $95. [MUSIC] And for every pair they sell, Warby Parker gives a pair to someone in need.
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He likes that. Now, he’s got the frames he wants, a pair that fits right and looks good.
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Find your pair at warbyparker.com. >> And now, let’s go to one final thing. This is a last word here and I think it’s probably appropriate that we put on the slide here, a company that’s just turned 40 years of age. It’s a company that at many points on its life almost completely died but as of course a very successful company, that we know around the world, the company is Apple. And Apple, in terms of authenticity and transparency in the narrative that was developed, is really built on three things. And I’m just taking this from a book that was written about the founder, Steve Jobs. And I’d like you to think about these three things and how they might apply to your own venture and your own start up. So the three things are the following. First of all, the importance of customer empathy. So, no not necessarily always relying on a lot of extensive market research, but really understanding at a deep level what customers want, even before they know it themselves. That’s number one, that’s empathy. The second thing that’s absolutely critical is the concept of focus. Understand what things need to be done for the customer that are absolutely critical, and do them to the highest possible standard. So focused excellence is critical. And then number three, this is a little bit of a strange English word, so I’ll explain it. Even strange for me as a native speaker. The word is imputation. Imputation means when the customer sees your product, he or she is immediately drawn to it without explanation. So, I walk into that Apple store, and I just want the products, and I almost don’t know why. So empathy, focus and amputations. So thanks as always for participating in the lesson. I wish all of you the very best with your startups and I really hope these ideas will help you develop that authentic and personable narrative that you need really to succeed.

Jim Rohn Sứ mệnh khởi nghiệp