In 1990 the legendary rock band Deep Purple, a huge innovator, visited Israel during the first intifada. Soon they will return. Their leader, interviewed on Kol Israel, explains their vision.

Deep Purple was first formed 40 years ago, in 1968, in Hertfordshire, England. They have sold 100 million albums worldwide, and were once called “the world’s loudest band”. They refuse to label themselves as ‘heavy metal’ or any such tag. “We are musicians, not performers,” their leader says. “We play music on the stage, not put on a show”. This in part explains the huge and faithful following Deep Purple enjoys, decades after it was launched. They are real, they are authentic. 

In this, a key principle of innovation is revealed: Authenticity. Make sure your product is what it says it is, what it claims to be, and does what it claims to do. Today, there is so much fakery – the dubbing of the little Chinese girl’s voice at the Olympics opening ceremony is a tiny example, as is the revealing storm of protest that ensued — that people increasingly crave what is real.

In their new book, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want (HBS Press, 2008), B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmour state the key principles of authenticity.

* The craving for authenticity is “getting more intense in an increasingly artificial world”.

* To be perceived as “fully authentic”, your company must “be true to itself and what it says it is to others”.

* Effective marketing today involves “placemaking experiences” which enable companies to be who they say they are.

* Authentic offerings should be rendered as: natural, original, exceptional, referential (referring to other authentic offerings) or influential. 

Even totally fake offerings, like Disneyland or Vegas, “can be perceived as authentic”, note the authors, if they are “honest about their fakery”.

So, innovators: Ask yourself – is your innovative product or service offering real, true, honest, or is their any element of dishonesty, hype, excessive claims, spin or deception involved? Is your marketing deceiving or honest? In the Age of Authenticity, you just cannot fool any of the people any of the time, despite what Abe Lincoln said. This is part of the explanation for Deep Purple’s abiding long-term success.

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