11 Responses to Why Your Brand Needs to be “Open & Transparent”

  1. Dave Steer says:

    I completely agree with Randall’s assessment. Thanks for raising this as an important direction for brand marketing.

    Trust – and the accompanying attributes of transparency, honesty and integrity – have always been at the core of successful brands (a brand after all is a ‘trustmark’), but now this must be followed through in every action and communication coming from the brand.

    Fact is that traditional marketing vehicles are less effective — advertising is being tuned out and has become less credible from a generation of scrutinizers; public relations is much more of a challenge with fewer media outlets and overstretched journalists; and people are looking to their friends and family (and people like them) to guide their decision making.

    The good news? Marketing in social media requires you to be friends with potential customers. This forces marketeers to live the values of trust inherent in the brands they represent.

    • beardrs says:

      Hi Dave — Thanks for the comment and reading the blog. I agree that brands that engage customers in a conversation have the potential to create more “friendships” and honesty and trust are at the core of these relationships. What amazes me is how many brands still don’t get it and haven’t internalized the changes that are, I think, permanent. This, of course, creates opportunities for those brands which do understand how to be open and transparent and use this to drive their business.
      Randall

  2. Greg Sieck says:

    Randall,

    Great post! I’m sure you saw the NYT article today about SIGG (the company that makes stainless steel water bottles). They got caught trying to cover up an issue with their product performance. Their CEO made it worse by trying to downplay the cover-up. SIGG is getting pounded as we speak on Twitter.

    If they had followed your rules from the outset, they would be in much better shape!

    • beardrs says:

      Hi Greg — Thanks for bringing this up. I did, in fact, see the SIGG article this morning and thought–perfect example but only a day late !! Sometimes, the most difficult thing for companies to do is be open and transparent when things go wrong. To err is human, and consumers have a high tolerance for accepting mistakes — if they are dealt with openly and transparently, which means: 1) acknowledge the problem; 2) explain to people in SIMPLE terms how it happened; 3) Communicate what your plan is to fix it so it never, ever happens again; and 4) Update people periodically to show them you are taking the actions you committed to. This is the primary way to rebuild trust and re-engage your customers and key stakeholders to re-build your brand. Thanks for reading the blog, Greg.
      Randall

  3. Ed Burghard says:

    Randall – I would love for you to do a blog post on Brand America and your perception of how branding principles from the product and corporate world could be reapplied to help make Brand America more competitive for global capital investment.

  4. Andrew Weir says:

    Randall – another great post.

    Twitter has turbo-charged the speed at which one-to-many occurs (as evidenced by recent Dominoes issue) so, as you say, it is critical for brand organisations to be genuinely open and transparent.

    • beardrs says:

      Andrew — Yes, I agree that the one-to-many phenomenon has been turbo charged by Twitter, YouTube, etc. I still think WOM is most effective when it is passed along by someone you know and trust. Twitter followers are usually a mix of people who know and trust you, as well as anonymous followers who (hopefully) follow you because they value your thinking and views, but don’t really know you. These latter followers are still influenced by the WOM info passed along, but probably not to the same degree as the people who really know and trust you. In any event, Tweeters with large followings need to be engaged as they can have a real impact across both groups–positive or negative–on your brand.
      Randall

  5. Ken Wessel says:

    Randall; Good thinking and excellent points by you and your responders. I have this thought to add; A shift of primary focus away from attributes that differentiate us from competitors and toward values needs and expectations of customers will reinforce principles of open transparency. Brands are often drawn into a war of competing claims to one up a competitor that leads away from open transparency as perceived by customers. When we are open and transparent in our desire to understand the real needs of a customer, and in our investment in products that serve those needs, and in responsiveness to their feedback; trust and confidence will follow.

    • beardrs says:

      Ken — Thanks for reading the blog and taking the time to provide your comments. Your point that listening to customers needs and delivering against those thru better products and services is linked to being open and transparent is an interesting one. I think brands can do a lot to let customers know that they are listening and responding. Clearly, when customers feel their feedback is taken seriously and acted on, they are going to trust the brand more and have greater confidence. So, brands can benefit from being open and transparent in the way they gather customer opinions and communicate how they are responding to these. Great build — thanks.
      Randall

  6. […] and transparency are really important” – Tony sees authenticity and transparency (to read more on this topic, see my blog post) as a core part of the Zappos brand. When reporters show up at Zappos, they’re shown the […]

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