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Brand transparency

Just read a fascinating book called the Circle about one company that dominates the world. It is a Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon company all rolled into one. Scary? Yes it is. Everybody knowing exactly what you are doing, all the time, must get to feel very claustrophobic and oppressive.

It raises an interesting issue that is salient to branding. Leading your life in a totally open, transparent way means you are far less likely to do anything ‘wrong’. This is the case for brands today.

It wasn’t so long ago that brands acted with impunity because their activities were hidden from public gaze. They could say and do pretty much what they wanted with few questions asked. Social media, in it’s many guises, means it is much harder for brands to ‘get away with things’. Peer reviews provide a real time perspective of a brand'

s performance. Negative views, in particular, spread very quickly. When Spotify tried accessing all customers’ contacts in order to sell to them, it trended on Twitter almost instantly. When it was found out that Starbucks paid so little tax, even though it strictly speaking was not doing anything wrong, people thought it was not playing ‘fair’ and it’s sales in the UK declined significantly.

To overcome these pitfalls brands today must be totally transparent. If your brand is designed to aid weight loss back it up with substantiated facts. If your brand contains an excessive amount of sugar don’t claim it’s healthy. If your brand claims to have low emission engines make sure they are. If your brand claims to answer queries within five minutes support it with independently verified data.

In short, any successful brand today must be true to itself, totally transparent, with all brand communication in tune with what it stands for. If it doesn’t it will get found out and die.

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