Let’s talk about transparency.
For starters, there is a major misconception surrounding this word. It has almost a negative connotation to it. You think transparency, and what comes to mind? You probably think about a time when a politician had to go on TV and publicly admit a screw up of some sort.
Transparency is usually what people call for after a major crisis, a scandal, a mea culpa.
In reality, transparency is a good thing, and if done well, should go beyond a reactive response to a crisis. You want to build a culture of transparency into your brand or business across the board. It should be present at all levels of your organization. You’ll know you’re doing transparency well if the word, relative to your brand, is thought of as a sort of badge of honor; a reason to celebrate you or your company.
Business Transparency and Your Brand
There are three levels at which you want transparency to permeate your brand, business, or organization.
This is all about your approach to transparency inside your organization. Think about how you want people to treat others and make that an essential part of your business. You most likely want everyone to act with integrity and honor.
Be consistent with those values for everything you do, from discipline to hiring practices.
State your values clearly and refer to them frequently with regard to your operations. Talk to your employees, stay open to suggestions, and air on the side of overcommunication. There should not be any secrets about the business between yourself and your employees. Share everything you can with them, and your investors, so they are on the same page as you and trust you.
Once the mission statement has been set, the delivery or creation of your product or service should fully support your values. Otherwise, you’re just saying nice words that lack real transparency.
Let’s take Patagonia for example.
The popular outerwear brand is committed to environmental sustainability. That’s why they take a proactive approach with regard to their supply chain. Rather than risk being connected to any environmentally-unfriendly habits of its manufacturers or distributors, Patagonia takes the responsibility on itself to make sure no harm is being caused in the making of its products. The project is called “Footprint Chronicles” and is displayed to the general public through videos on the company’s website.
How often do you hear about brands claiming to be all-organic only to find out later their ingredients are far from pure? Or, perhaps a brand claims to be carbon neutral, but their manufacturing process doesn’t live up to the standard.
In a world where information travels at lightning speed, you need to make sure your product or service is designed and delivered with a level of transparency that supports your core values. This is how you build a higher-level of credibility and trust around your brand.
3. Customer Engagement
One of my favorite examples of a company that thinks (probably every minute) about customer engagement relative to transparency is Amazon. Transparency transcends every aspect of their customer experience from the ease of returns, product tracking, and response to consumer complaints to the photo of a customer’s package on his doorstep after drop off.
Technology, combined with the incredible number of social platforms we have today, have all but eliminated any excuse for not engaging with your customers on a regular basis and in a transparent way.
The best brands engage their customers through varying types of media channels, get feedback, answer questions, solve complaints, give their audience a look behind the curtain, get to know ownership on a more personal level, experience the inner workings of the company, and see what’s happening inside the brand… all of which adds up to a healthy level of business transparency.
If you’re reading the list above and thinking – “I do none of that” – don’t panic. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can start changing your approach right now and help make your business more transparent internally, externally, and culturally.
Other Related Symboliq Blogs:
–why you should never abandon your marketing efforts during a crisis
–how to build brand authority