Mars, Nestle, and Hershey, what do we know about them? Well, for one, they have brought unlimited joy to chocolate lovers. You probably have some of the products in your pantry right now as we speak.
The brands have also managed to build a positive reputation within the market. For a long time, people have trusted and supported them. But, if you have been keeping up with the news, you know there is serious trouble brewing.
Former Ivory child workers have launched a lawsuit against the three companies. The plaintiffs, from the Coast plantation, are seeking compensation for forced labor and unjust enrichment. Other issues are negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
It gets worse; it seems like the companies promised to help phase out child labor. So, in essence, they lied while continuing to reap profits from vulnerable groups. If there is any truth to these accusations, the brands may find it very hard to recover.
Socially conscious customers may find it hard to forgive such transgressions. The sense of betrayal amongst loyal customers will be pretty significant. It could very well open floodgates for human rights groups to go after the defendants.
But, the biggest question may be about openness. Why were they not forthcoming with such vital information? Did their customers not have a right to know from the beginning?
Understanding Brand Transparency
The simplest definition of brand transparency is being open and honest with customers. The company provides clarity on ideals and values.
They are open about things like pricing, products, ingredients, and manufacturing processes. They own up to past mistakes without hiding behind half-truths or unethical practices.
Brand transparency covers every aspect of the business. Such include product development, recruitment, and management policies. By adopting the practice, a company does not reveal only the things that make them look good.
The online space has opened up tons of resources. Companies can use websites, social media platforms, and emails to communicate with customers.
Another option is to go for the traditional direct mailing. It uses print communication that you deliver to a customer’s physical location. They get something tangible that they can hold and read.
Pay attention to little things like the type of business envelopes you use. They should look professional and incorporate proper branding. If not, customers can throw them away without reading them.
Is it Hard To Achieve Brand Transparency?
Achieving complete brand transparency is not easy. It can be a painstaking process that would have you questioning your decisions. It can, for instance, be hard to know how much to reveal to customers.
The truth is customers may not be very interested in all your trade secrets. Your marketing strategy and financial growth plan may have no relevance to them. But, they may want to know where you are sourcing your products from.
They may also want to know the ingredient list, side effects, and pricing structures. Transparency also means that if you make a claim, you should be able to back it up. Many customers are skeptical of marketing language that covers a lot of truths.
For example, claiming that your disinfectant can kill 99% of germs is all good. But, if a customer asks for proof, will you provide it? Did you leave out the 1% because you are afraid of breaking false advertising laws?
Transparency demands that you set yourself up in the court of public opinion. If anything goes wrong, you may have to deal with the backlash from the public.
Further, it would take time to rebuild your reputation. It happens if the public negatively perceives your brand because of the information you shared.
Let’s go back to the case of the three companies above. If the lawsuit is a success for the plaintiffs, the companies will have a lot to explain. When you break trust, you can never be sure of regaining it.
How Brands Transparency Can Help You Win Customers
Think of a business relationship like you would personal ones. There is that one friend that you trust, without thought. You never fear that he is hiding anything from you. You know that if you need information or the truth, you will get it in full.
The same applies to the relationship a company should have with customers. The latter should feel like you are that friend they have an emotional connection with. That in itself is the essence of brand building.
So why should a business place emphasis on transparency?
1. The Business Will Grow
Every time a customer has a fantastic experience with the products or services, what do they do? The first thing is they are likely to come back. The second is to refer other people to the business.
Here are some interesting statistics you need to know about word-of-mouth marketing. 72% of customers get information from family and friends through word-of-mouth. 83% buy a product based on a recommendation from someone they trust.
61% have referred other people to local businesses. 3-star ratings and above can make your local business attractive to 72% of customers.
Loyal and trusting customers are critical if you ever hope for the business to grow.
2. Transparency Helps Build Trust
The modern customer has a lot of information and choice. But, with so much coming at them, it can get difficult to know which business to trust.
Yet, a study by Edelman shows why companies need to be more active in customer trust.
64% believe that trust is the second most important factor after price. Yet, 75% of customers will buy a product from a company they are loyal to. They will do this, even if it is more expensive than what is in the market.
70% say that trusting the brand has become more critical in the modern age. 74% look at how a business impacts society as a critical factor in placing trust.
3. Transparency Gives You a Leg Up in the Competitor Race
The marketing department spends hours thinking about how to outdo competitors. The advertising landscape is fierce both online and offline. Every brand is shouting at the top of their voice, hoping for the customers to hear them.
It makes it difficult to break away from the noise and clutter. Yet, brand transparency is that one factor that sets you apart.
Businesses must never forget that modern customers search for information. All these are available online. They will not have an issue spending some time researching a brand or product.
They want to know who they are dealing with before spending money. The amount of information has also made customers more enlightened thus less gullible. They will see through any activities or tactics that seem to be shying away from showing the truth. You will get more benefits on online advertising by telling the truth to the customers.
Brand transparency helps create trust, positive perception, and loyalty amongst customers. Yet, it is not achievable overnight. A company must have the right strategy and be consistent about implementation.
The modern customer has a lot of choices because of the level of competition. Quick access to information means they have resources to find out more about you. They also want more information on products and services.
You can no longer depend on fluff or advertising language to sway them. To achieve full transparency, a company should be able to hold itself accountable. You must also be realistic enough to know that you cannot hide mistakes forever.
You must also work at making your business more personable. It helps create an emotional connection with customers which is key for brand building.
Dan has hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.