Insights

Live For Five: Is Brand Transparency a New Pitch?

Brand transparency sounds like a buzzword.

For a lot of companies, that’s what it’s been: a sales pitch. Yet, to talk transparency and to walk transparency are two different things.

When I say ‘brand transparency’, what do you think of?

Sharing your pricing structure? Bringing the audience backstage? Showing the people how the donuts are being made?

It’s also more than that…

Jaime Lee of Ad Roll sums it up by saying, “brand transparency is maintaining open, honest, and accessible communications with your stakeholders, internal and external.”

This includes the good like a manufacturing company sharing its process when it promotes sustainability. And the challenging such as that scary email about a security breach.

Does transparency matter?

The data says so.

A 2016 study from Label Insight reveals that 78% of customers consider brand transparency to be very important with 70% devote extra time to finding out more about the companies and organizations they interact with.

From that study, nearly 40% of consumers said they’d switch to a brand that is more transparent while 73% said they would pay more for products that promise total transparency.

Do consumers think transparency is important? That answer is pretty clear.

Why does transparency matter? Trust.

Only 34% of consumers say they trust the brands they use. So many of us are total skeptics…but 94% of people are likely to be more loyal to brands that offer complete transparency. You cannot build a quality relationship with your audience without trust.

And it’s not just about the story you tell… here’s the thing:

Your audience knows how the Google works.

It doesn’t take long for reviews, social media, and the technoscape to expose and punish a company or organization for hypocrisy or attempting to hide information.

Recently, our family friend for pizza, Chuck E Cheese, seemed to be bypassing their reputation for substandard fare. By quietly launching Pasqually’s Pizzas and Subs under the radar to Grubhub users who apparently knew from the first bite it was from the Chuck. How? No idea. But it made it very awkward for the brand and the customers who felt they were being scammed.

When consumers uncover negative information you didn’t share, you’ve just sunk their trust and they are not likely to give that back to you easily because…

Consumers want to make a connection with you, not just your service or product. The right amount of brand transparency elevates the humanity of your brand. It also provides tools for your advocates to not only share, but to interact with your story.

What can you do to build transparency into your organization or business?

Here are a few tips:

First, be real. Tell a story that is true, that lifts your successes and acknowledges the challenges. Let your most difficult challenges be a mountain to conquer with your audience by your side. Bonnie Harris of Wax Marketing recently shared that, “It can seem painful, but public honesty and complete brand transparency – about losses, security breaches, even decreased sales numbers – is the best way to build consumer trust and brand reputation.”

Second, go live but balance out the exposure. Making conscious choices in how you open your door is important because connecting with consumers is critical, but so is the safety and well-being of your teammembers. Bringing live social media and behind-the-scenes experiences are incredible tools and must be done in collaboration with your team and in conversation with your audiences.

Third, promote honest feedback and respond swiftly. There is nothing that gets a universal thumbs up, except maybe birthday cake or Baby Yoda – so make space for pushback or criticism. One place companies can really excel is when they respond quickly and respectfully to critique or problems to show they are listening.

What do all these actions do?

They build trust and credibility in your brand by increasing transparency which should be part of your brand strategy. While it can feel vulnerable to expose challenges, failures, or goofs, if your brand story is clear to your audience, your audience will share their experience with you.