Understanding Authenticity - Everyday I'm Grustlin'

Authenticity is the cornerstone of online trust. This is true for both individuals and brands. Master the ability to be authentic and the rest will just fall into place. Transparency, trustworthiness, credibility – they are all side-effects of authentic behaviour. You see, people respond to, engage with, and generally trust those people, businesses, and brands that align their claims with their actions. To put it simply, they walk the talk.

In order to earn trust, a business or individual must be honest, personable and engage in transparent actions with their audience. Which in theory, sounds easy. But like most things in life, authenticity takes effort, and if you’re not careful, can cause you a world of hurt.

Mistaken Authenticity

Just over a year ago, I attended a Brand Camp conference in Detroit. Following the conference, I did what most bloggers do – I blogged, highlighting topics touched upon by the speakers. Since the conference was about branding, credibility and authenticity were common themes in my post. After summarizing information shared by one of the speakers, I continued evangelizing about the importance of building a truthful, original and transparent personal brand. I felt authentic, creative and confident in my post. And then someone called me out and accused me of being inauthentic.

Oh, crap.

Turns out, in my post I’d falsely credited a phrase used in the presentation to the speaker, when it was actually coined by a core hip hop artist named Kukoo Da Baga Bonez.

Did the speaker take credit for the phrase in his presentation? To be honest, I have no idea. He might have, or I might have just missed the reference. Either way it didn’t really matter, I’d made an inauthentic claim on a post all about the importance of building an ironclad personal brand. Not good.

But at the end of the day, I have to give props to Dwayne Bryant (Mr. Da Baga Bonez himself) for uncovering my epic fail. In today’s world of online publishing, social media and infinite information, it’s tough to maintain an authentic identity. Credit is no longer paid to the proper source – it’s simply pawned off on whomever is most convenient. Individuals (and brands) need to make a conscious effort to monitor and manage their brand in order to protect its authenticity and ensure its credibility. Which is exactly what Dwayne was doing.

So, in honour of Dwayne, professionally known as Kukoo Da Baga Bonez, let’s look at the three Rs of authenticity:

1) Be Real

Don’t hide behind a pseudonym or a generic address. People want to connect with other people, not some nameless entity behind an “info@” email address. Post a photo, a video, something that says, “hey, I’m not afraid to be me.” Amplify your voice or your brand’s voice by personalizing your online presence.

2) Be Responsive

Why post your contact information if you never intend to respond to the messages you receive? If your customers are taking the time to contact you, the least you can do is contact them back. Dwayne took the time to find, read, and comment on my post – it was only fair that I take the time to respond back.

3) Be Respectful

No matter how hard you try, you’re going to screw up. That’s the name of the game. The trick is learning how to own it. When Dwayne commented on my blog, sure, I felt like a moron. I could have ignored him; deleted his comment and never thought about it again. Yes, it would have saved me the embarrassment, but it would have been the ultimate form of disrespect to Dwayne. He took the time to right a wrong and manage the Kukoo Da Baga Bonez brand. He deserved my respect and was entitled to a fair response.

So, now when I’m grustlin’ I have Dwayne a.k.a. KukBonez Da GRUSTLER to thank. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kukoo Da Baga Bonez a.k.a. “Da GRUSTLER” is an independent hip hop artist and entrepreneur from New York that has been putting in work consistently in the music industry since the mid 90′s and has crossed over into several markets since he debuted with his certified underground classic “Da Real Kukoo”. Co-founder at Vitalize Labs/Eboost, Josh Taekman recognizes Kukoo Da Baga Bonez as a leader and a pioneer.

3 thoughts on “Understanding Authenticity - Everyday I'm Grustlin'

  1. I would like to thank and give much respect to CIK Marketing for doing a blog piece on this topic because it is an important issue to tackle regarding authenticity and originality. Independent entities are made out to be incapable of becoming major because the lack of commercial appeal but in actuality the Independent entities are the ones who originate most of the ideas that goes in and through the mainstream media. Independents like myself and many others become victims of idea/identity theft because we are core, while mainstream individuals and corporations have access to vast media outlets. They scurry to expose what they have learned and or heard about in the core scene. It was very interesting the way I stumbled upon CIK blog from researching how far the Grustler brand stretched.

    I commend Chantielle of CIK Marketing for setting the record straight in regards to the word Grustler and where it had originated from. I actually reached out to the individual who held seminars using the word “Grustler” via email, blog and Twitter to get an answer on why he could mislead the public by not giving credit and he basically down played having any ties and claimed that he was not invested in the word? How could this be possible when others who attended his seminars left thinking like he was the original source? I never wanted to hold the word hostage because I felt when I first created it in 2004 that it described hard work and dedication in which, not just me could relate to the movement. My point is that credit should be given to the originators in every industry. The mainstream needs to stop treating hard working independents like door mats. I have experienced others who have taken my ideas to enhance their reputations and profit without giving due. I always say, how can you erase something that has been written in stone? The truth is out there and will always be revealed.

  2. The question here is how can anyone claim ownership of a word that is merely an amalgamation of two other words? Or any other word, for that matter? People coin these things every day. Perhaps Hajj came up with the word via “grind” and “hustle” as he claimed, and had no contact with Kukoo.

    Bottom line: while I can sympathise with Kukoo having ‘his’ word appropriated by someone else, intentionally or not, if his personal brand has achieved enough traction he’ll get namechecked, if it hasn’t, he won’t. Kukoo, does lil Scrappy give you the credit you seek? That seems more relevant than some obscure brand consultant.

  3. Flash, it really doesn’t matter because obviously all of them guys are claiming ownership of a word that they heard from someone else. Forget the technicalities of it and so forth. These guys took something they didn’t originate and made it out to be like it was some big finding. It was already circulated out there to the world. The album cover says “Da GRUSTLER” all rights reserved 2007. My youtube Grustler page is 2007 and Grustler Myspace page is 2006. Why should a person have to hand cuff a word that clearly can describe others and have to worry about another entity taking ownership for it without giving credit?

    It’s false like Rick Ross taking the name and identity of a guy named RICK ROSS but the original guy can’t even get credit? I reached out to Hajj and Lil Scrappy on Twitter. It took me more than one effort to get a reply back from Hajj and Lil Scrappy ain’t even get back at me and I posted Da Grustler album cover on his Twitter. Everything will be revealed soon trust me. Hajj Flemmings is considered a “brand specialist” but he is having seminars on a word he didn’t even come up with? Why do major companies pay these guys if they can’t come up with their own ideas? All in all everything is out there and documented and NO ONE can prove they used these words merged together before I did. Kukoo da baga bonez is the real “Brand Specialist” and Scrappy is a biter.

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