Did you know your beloved Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is actually a Miller Coors product? Or that Goose Island is owned by Budweiser? I see it all the time in craft beer – breweries bought out because of their popularity or in the case of the latest batch of posers, big corporate breweries trying to hoodwink drinkers with a beer that looks like it came from a microbrewery. Take a look at Third Shift Brewing Company and you’ll see what I mean. They grate on me with their image of being craft brewers when they’re just another big brewery attempt at gaining some drinkers from the growing craft market. It’s a deceptive bait and switch where consumers think they’re supporting the little guy and end up lining the pockets of Miller Coors. The same bait and switch happens on the Internet, too.

It’s a lack of authenticity when what you portray yourself as and what you really are happen to be different. Hoodwinking customers is a surefire way to ruin your chance of success. The customers you do snag will be ticked and you’ll never land the customers you really want. The smart people you want on your side can and will sniff out a fake.

It takes real effort and time to grow your reputation organically. Don’t expect to come out of the gate with customers and industry peers giving you the time of day. You have to earn it. Quality work for clients and walking the walk will build your company and reputation the right way.  I’ve seen a brewery generate a ton of hype before a single pint was brewed and they were crucified for it. Now a few years later, they’re a leader and extremely popular. In the same vein, when Goose Island sold out to Budweiser, they lost a lot of fans. Being authentic and true to yourself will carry your business much further than a cool marketing campaign.

If you want to truly build anything – a business, a brand, a community – that has lasting power, you should be authentic. The Wizard of Oz was so much cooler than the scary image he hid behind. Don’t be the man behind the curtain and hide from your customers with smoke and mirrors. Share what makes you passionate with others. Show them how your personality makes your business the right fit for them. It could be slow going at first, but with strong content and your personal voice, you’ll get there.