In this article, we break down brand transparency. And why it should be a golden strategy that a business must strive towards.
What is Brand Transparency?
The mainstream definition of Brand transparency is the disclosure of information. It may be relating to product sources, manufacturers and other suppliers. This is to ensure that stakeholders, including end consumers, have a complete and accurate picture of the product. Including any ethical or environmental impact it has.
Transparency does not imply that as a brand you reveal every single data; it means that your business is openly accountable and honest with your consumer about the work done by your brand. For instance, if you consider ‘Finance,’ your customer wants information about guarantees on returns or safety of their investments. Another example could be tangible goods like clothes or food. The buyer wants to be aware of the ingredients/ materials that were used during manufacturing and where they come from.
Why does it matter NOW, more than ever?
With technology making information easily accessible to the masses, brands are now urged to make information available not just on their product or service, but also the process that goes into its delivery. Living in a hyper-connected, global culture that is tethered by technology means that consumers today have no tolerance towards organisations with bad practices. From sportswear brands like Nike to supermarket giants such as Marks and Spencer, brands are pivoting towards adapting the transparency model to restore the trust and confidence amongst consumers. Your brands’ transparency influences consumers shopping behaviour and the factors they value when choosing between brands.
Over the years brand transparency has been established in a variety of industries ranging from food, pharmaceuticals, apparel and other industries. Arguably, two of the industries that require transparency more than ever is the food and fashion industry.
Some noteworthy initiatives would be how Marks and Spencers introduced complete traceability of its beef products to prevent meeting the fate of one of its rivals, Tesco. On the other hand fashion brands such as H&M, Esprit and Adidas have also been ranked as “most transparent brands” in streetwear and sportswear sectors. Luxury brands, however, lagged far behind in this respect. Although, when considered as a separate brand, Gucci ranked among the top 48% of transparent brands, however luxury brands are moving at a below-average pace towards a transparent model.
How can your brand be transparent?
Additionally, social media has added to the growing expectation for brands to share more of who they are and how they operate. Moreover, it has opened up new avenues of communication and with that, new channels for critique. As a brand, you can use your platform to showcase brand values or give a glimpse of your daily operations. It is the perfect medium to connect with your customers to build trust, loyalty and be able to communicate openly with them. Social media is where customers actively raise their voices or opinions as fans, followers or at times act like advocates for the brand. By portraying your brand journey on social media it opens the gateway for you to develop a sense of ‘inclusion’ for your customer with the brand.
Blockchain technology, for one, has the potential to fix this. Every physical object bought has a story: a journey of people, places and materials. But these stories and the information presented to consumers is rarely enough. As the underlying technology driving cryptocurrencies, blockchain is a decentralised and distributed digital system of records. They cannot be altered once they have been added. With transparency becoming best practice across the supply chain, blockchain technology can fast track this process. As consumers want to see more information on their products, supply chain transparency will be valued more going forward. Walmart is one such example that has already channelled blockchain technology to track their produce from farm to shelf.
They say it takes years to earn trust but only an instant to lose it. With consumers educating themselves on the products before they buy them, the brands will have to work at being trustworthy. Brands are heading towards a time that will have them ingrain the idea of transparency into the brand DNA. You either embrace it and have control over the brand narrative or risk getting presented in a negative light. Use your channels, like social media and communicate directly with your customers. It does not take much to improve your brand transparency considering how enormous the benefits are. When you earn your customers trust it can undoubtedly improve your brand reputation, awareness and eventually elevate sales.