How is authenticity interpreted by Designed For Life?
Authenticity is not part of the DFL framework; however, it is valuable to consider how the framework interacts with this concept. First, we need to define what exactly we mean by “authenticity.” Next, we can ask, “What is authenticity in the realm of DFL?” and “How do we value authenticity among the products and companies we work with?.”
To create a strong framework, we need to understand what DFL stands for. We need to understand what our responsibilities are and what we are not willing to take on. We want to make sure we have transparency for what we include in our framework and humility to acknowledge things that we are missing. Our purpose is to “inspire humankind to consume less by empowering companies to design better.” Therefore, part of our authenticity is making the framework operable for companies and understandable for consumers. We might not be experts in sustainability, but that is why we choose to partner with those who are.
What about authenticity in DFL products? An authentic product solves a real problem. Otherwise, it is another product on the market that relies on marketing and advertising to take a slice of the pie. The clearer the problem it solves, the more authentic we could say a product is. We understand that this is abstract and, most of the time, subjective. The more a product focuses on solving a real problem, the more it relies on word-of-mouth praise and less on advertising. Advertising is a medium to introduce a product to its audience, not to convince people of its necessity.
Every product is connected to the company behind it – however, sometimes a company’s actions can undermine the authenticity of the product. One prominent example of this is Tesla’s incompatible charging stations and dealership practices. Can a company be considered authentic if it creates the need for consumers to constantly update their products? It certainly would not be true to DFL.
Finally, can you be authentic as a company if you say your mission is just to make profits for shareholders? Can we accept that this can be an honest, true, and authentic mission for a company?
Our takeaway is that if that is your mission, you are ignoring critical issues, such as the state of the environment, inequality, and other fundamental truths. We do not think that every company needs to save the world, but ignoring certain realities and not embracing the role of a company and its stakeholders in a global ecosystem feels inauthentic.