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Scaling Authenticity

A good friend gave me a bottle of wine the other day. 

I don’t know about you, but I find wine branding and label design fascinating. However, because I’m no wine buff, I struggle to tell the difference between a vino that is ‘refreshing, vibrant and dynamically complex’ and one with ‘a finish of burnt bay leaf’.

With a reasonably unrefined palate (which, I suspect, many of us have), I’ve often wondered how winemakers get their products to stand out to people like me. When there are hundreds of wines jostling for shelf space, how does Joe Average decide on a bottle to purchase for dinner that night?

And then I saw the Little Giant. I loved the stumpy bottle and the handwritten vintage date on the label. I was drinking something bespoke, lovingly crafted by an artisan in limited quantity using traditional methods from grapes she’d hand-picked.   

Except I wasn’t.

Upon closer inspection, the handwritten date was simply clever graphic design. What I assumed to be the artisan’s handwriting was instead a printed label. Each bottle looked the same as the other 5 in the box. The Little Giant’s cover was blown!

But it got me thinking. What is it that draws us to handcrafted products? Why do we prefer custom over cliche?

It’s All About Authenticity

I think it’s all about authenticity. We like things that feel real because they give us a sense of being alive. Of being human. Of feeling ‘seen’. Mass-produced products and services might serve a purpose, but they don’t have a ‘soul.

Recently, we added to our staff and now have a fantastic team of 22 people. (It’s humbling, as it seems like I was doing everything myself from my bedroom only yesterday.)

Here’s a recent photo of just some of us.

Delivering individualised, authentic service at scale is a challenge for many businesses, and we’re constantly thinking about it. Thinking ‘small’ is essential, particularly as the business scales and grows. 

Thinking ‘Small’ While Growing Bigger

When Abe’s Audio was a start-up in the early 2000s, I thought ‘small’ (because the business was small.) I knew all my clients personally, I could react quickly, and I just made things happen to provide what they needed. As the business has grown, the challenge has been to keep some of that ‘small’ thinking as we’ve gotten bigger.

Growth is excellent, but if you can’t provide personalised, authentic service to clients while you grow, those clients will feel undervalued and like a number in the system, rather than what they actually are; a valued part of the business.

Authenticity is difficult to scale, and it requires great people to make it happen. But if the team can think ‘small’ while the business gets bigger, clients will feel seen, valued and appreciated. 

And the business will continue to grow.

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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