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What is says on the tin - Authentic

I wonder if they realised when the advertising agency came up with the slogan, what a mainstream phrase it was to become. ‘Does exactly what it says on the tin’ was the simple phrase that advertising agency HHCL came up with for Ronseal to describe its quick drying wood stain. The phrase has now been trademarked by Ronseal and it has helped Ronseal become a household name and brand leader.

I think there are many reasons that that this phrase captivated consumers and has now worked its way into our vocabulary. It speaks of simplicity, authenticity, integrity and a promise to the consumer. In a world full of over promise and under deliver, it was refreshing to just have a product that says, ‘I am wood stain and I dry quickly. I am nothing more, nothing less, just a wood stain that dries quickly.’

Authentic product

Right at the core of this slogan is authenticity. Inside the tin is wood stain. It is not fancy or false. Just what it promises. When we are leading an organisation, we need to describe what we want our organisation to be and encourage when we see it and wheedle out the inauthentic. If we say we are a caring organisation then people need to see and experience care when they enter our organisation. If we say we are reflective, they need to see people being honest and open, reflecting on performance both good and bad and planning improvements. Authentic products do not come about by accident. They need to be planned and purposeful and the quality maintained. It's the same with our organisations. We need to describe what we want, praise it when we see it, challenge it when we don’t and work on it on a daily basis. I describe to people that we need to ‘fll the bath by the dripping tap’, which means constantly ‘drip, drip, dripping’ the standards and values we want to see. We need to model it and mentor and explain to others the best practice.

Authentic message

If we want people to understand the message it needs to be simple and authentic. Focus on one key thing at a time. The four disciplines of execution encourage us to focus on the ‘wildly important goal’. Their research shows that when we focus on more than one thing it waters down the effectiveness. Keep it simple and make it real and talk to people about the impact that it will have. I explain to people, to engage people in the message it needs to have PSI – Principle; Story; Impact. The principle of what you want to say, a story that demonstrates it and tell them the impact it has had or can have. People then see it as authentic, real and achievable. Take a look at the Ronseal advert for its ‘quick drying wood stain’ and they demonstrate the principle that it is wood stain that dries quickly, show you how it works and then tap it with their knuckles afterwards to show its impact.

Authentic leaders

If the message and product need to be authentic, then this needs to stem from the leader. Where do we get the strongest connections with people? It is when they are authentic. They do not have delusions of grandeur. They have humility and they listen and connect with you. As leaders we need to be authentic. This means being genuine, truthful, trustworthy and dependable. These words form the moral base for leadership and when they are not built upon, it creates a distrust with those we work with because what leadership stands for ‘on the tin’ is not the product people see.

As leaders there are 3 simple questions, we can ask ourselves to develop a ‘what is says on the tin’ culture.

1. What do I want this organisation to stand for and what am I purposefully doing to grow that culture?

2. What simple message do my people need to hear at this time and what are the stories that will help that land?

3. How am I authentically modelling what I want to see?

Can we help you?

We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to explore creating an authentic organisation, then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.


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