Transparency is almost alien in today’s brandscape. Misrepresentations, half-truths, and sneaky marketing tactics have become the go-to for cranking up sales. Given this, you’d find that ‘white-hat’ brands that embrace good ‘ol transparency as a core of their operations are always a YES for the modern buyer.
Just ask any random customer… They’re more than likely to spill something along the lines of “It’s pure gold!!”
And think of it. Isn’t it? There was, in fact, a time where business owners could conceal important truth and get away with it. Not anymore. Why? Customers are the new GI Joe (“Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!”) with absolute access to a sea of intelligence on what brands are up to, keeping them more ‘in the know’ and mindful of which brands they pitch their loyalty tents with.
These days we get all sorts of promises from different brands, but how do we know if they hold true? How do we ensure that we’re getting your money’s worth when, for instance, a restaurant business claims to be 100% vegan? We don’t. Or at least not until we’ve snagged up their menu and tried it out. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Right?
You get finicky, imagining transparency to brands to be almost the Buddhist equivalent of violence. A no-go. Then you ponder, “Uhmm. How do I know if they’re telling the truth?!” Well, certain brands don’t hold back when it comes to transparency.
Not because their recruitment policy entails snapping up virtuous monks, but because transparency is the core of their branding! Transparency in business can be a great thing. It’s no wonder brands are jumping on the transparency bandwagon.
Now that you’re buckled in, you want to know what then is transparency. How it works, and why the fuss? Here’s a crash course:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A BRAND TO BE TRANSPARENT?
Transparency is relative. Different lengths, differing interpretations for different brands. But across the board, it all comes down to the quality of being clear or transparent.
That definition doesn’t do enough justice when it comes to branding, though. Transparency in branding is so much more than just being clear on your offer and how you work with clients, it’s about being clear as day about what’s happening under the covers.
While many people think transparency is about being completely open and honest, this rule has a few subtle caveats. For starters, transparency doesn’t mean you have to tell the public everything about your business. That entails trade secrets and other ‘better-left-unsaids.’
You can’t be open about everything, or else your transparency loses its essence.
MORE THAN A BUZZWORD: WHY IS TRANSPARENCY IMPORTANT TO CONSUMERS?
You made a commitment to your customers, investors & lenders, employees. But transparency goes over and above—it presents your business an opportunity for you as well! A differentiator, a force multiplier… a unique selling point. (yeappp!)
With online platforms like social media where people review businesses on their phones without giving a second thought to how it may mar brand reputation, transparency has become all-important.
Perhaps, the most recent example of brands that may have fallen short of transparency in the heart of customers is—If you haven’t a clue yet, what other brand triggers your “trust issues” alarm more worryingly than Facebook?
Recall the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal where a board member of the latter company had used illegally obtained data of users of the social media platform to create voter profiles. The aftermath? Facebook was fined a whopping $5 billion while for Cambridge Analytica.
Unsurprisingly, in a SurveyMonkey/Recode poll, asking which company was trusted the least with personal data, 56% of the respondents judged Facebook the least trustworthy. Also, according to a 2019 MarketWatch report, Facebook lost an estimated 15 million users.
Moral: Transparency is becoming increasingly important, and when snubbed, the repercussions can be far-reaching. (Unless you’re Facebook!) 😉
WORTH THE FUSS? TRANSPARENCY’S ROI
“Take the long way. Do the hard work, consistently and with generosity and transparency. And then you won’t waste time doing it over.” – Seth Godin
Here’s the sitch: it’s the consumers’ world, and we (brands) are merely living in it.
Unless you’ve somehow gotten the hang of scaling businesses without your customers being a part of the equation, your best bet remains transparency about your ideals and processes, with your practices backing it up. You gain the elusive trust and loyalty of customers (which ultimately grows your bottom line and brand credibility!) Here’s how:
- Quell customer curiosity
People want to know more about brands they believe in, so offering them the chance to do so can increase sales. Consumers also trust brand transparency as an indicator for quality products from those they deem as trustworthy businesses.
In yet another study conducted by Label Insight, 37 percent of the respondents stated that they’d switch brands if they were not provided with the information they sought.
- Show responsibility & accountability
When a company is transparent, it’s like opening up their inner sanctum and letting you in on all of the secrets. A business with nothing to hide has no problem broadcasting its values for public consumption. Whether what they make (or don’t) or how much customers pay them per item.
Transparency goes hand in glove with accountability because nobody can complain if the information isn’t available when needed! With this, drive growth, goodwill, and engagement because you’re seen as being able to own up to everything your business does.
- Gain actionable feedback
When you share all of the dirty details with consumers, not only can they see how honest your company is, but they also feel like a part of it since they feel like an insider sharing in some kind of insider info that the average joe’s not privy to.
Thus, they feel more inclined to offer honest (and helpful!) feedback on how you can improve what products to create and loads more!
- Crisis control
For the employees, transparency boosts morale. In times of crises, it serves as a buffer that means you control the narrative. A Sprout Social survey revealed that where a brand has previously demonstrated honesty and transparency, nearly nine of ten people will give them a second chance after a bad experience with them.
Here’s the juicy bit: 85 percent of these respondents hinted that they’ll stick with the brand even if there’re in a crisis!
- Deliver deeper, more meaningful connection
When your branding is transparent, consumers will be able to relate to your product/service offerings as a whole on a much deeper level because you’re not just another faceless brand.
They feel like your doors are open towards them unlike the usual ‘big name’ businesses that’re quite the ‘untouchable’.
HOP ONBOARD THE TRANSPARENCY TRAIN
When it comes to managing your brand, silence is everything but golden. In fact, being tightlipped is just as steep in repercussion as being flat out dishonest. If consumers are not given information, they either head next door (competitors), or worse, dig further and possibly unravel dirt that could undo your brand’s perception
Transparency’s also much more humanizing than using fear tactics (spooky marketing antics like FOMO) or self-adulting rhetoric (slogans like “we’re number one” or “the best quality”)
Your customers will appreciate knowing all of the details about who you are and what you do, so make sure to share them with everyone if this is something your business values!
Calling all guilty brands/businesses! We can imagine that you’ve read up till this point and you’ve been hit with that lightbulb moment where you see there’s a serious hankering for brand ‘soul-searching’ (audit!).
Now, there’s no excuse not to show up strong and let everyone know what exactly makes YOUR business a different kettle of fish to everybody else’s. Our team of experts are at your service to help you with all the legwork you need to avoid a brand bummer with our complimentary brand audit! If you’re game, why don’t you ding us here for your free consultation? And find other helpful business tools and advice here.