Brand Transparency Taken to the Limit

Brand marketers are in the throes of deciding how transparent their brand must be. This is a significant issue in many boardrooms around the globe. A close friend was in Turkey last week, and sent me the photo below of the Oscar Watch store in Istanbul… they actually sell “Genuine Fakes”. Talk about transparency… they are making money on telling the truth.

But determining what level and degree of transparency is a delicate balance. One of our clients has written “transparency is good business that will build customer loyalty and brand advocacy that results in sustainable competitive advantage.” while another feels there are risks to a corporation being transparent and feel they should focus on “honest communications.”

Think of it this way. Activist groups, the media, shareholders and competitors each have reason to want your company to be completely transparent. But as a manager of your company’s brand, you have to be very careful not to give away any information that would jeopardize the business and give away critical information to competitors.

Further, the history of corporations (and governments) not being completely transparent has made us all a little bit jaded when they ask us to believe. We suspect, deep down, that they are not telling the whole story. Just look at the financial services industry and you can understand how they have to earn their way back into brand favor. The trust scores for the major banks are way off from their peaks, and it will take a long time to return. So they are forced into price wars, instead of using brand preference to convert customers.

So smart brand marketers are trying to navigate the best way for their important customers and consumers to become engaged, without giving away the company store.

It is a very complicated challenge, but one that companies must meet in order to hold on to their very fragile franchises, and grow further.