Why brand honesty wins

Why brand honesty wins

Creating a strong brand culture means building one that’s authentic – being truthful about customer experience, both good and bad, as well as your successes and failures.

A handful of years ago, the insights and trends forecasting website Trendwatching.com introduced a rather cringeworthy term that, for better or worse, has been remembered by most people who saw it: ‘flawsome’.

Trendwatching.com reasoned brands that behave in a more human fashion, including showing their flaws, would be considered ‘awesome’ by consumers. Consumers no longer expected brands to be perfect – there was too much water under the bridge, too many let-downs, too much controversy. Instead, consumers would embrace brands that were ‘flawsome’: that would show empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humour and humanity.

Cringeworthy or not, the ‘trend’ has proved to be bang on the money. Today, creating a brand culture based on honesty and authenticity is more likely to engage and satisfy the demands of customers who have become sceptical about the motives of big business. This means being pragmatic about customer experience, weathering attacks, and proposing deliverable, sustainable solutions instead of promises that can’t be kept.

A Cohn & Wolfe survey report found that communicating honestly about products and services, environmental impact and sustainability measures, were more important to consumers than product utility, brand appeal or popularity. Furthermore, 63% of global consumers would buy from a company they consider to be authentic, over and above competitors; 47% would be happy to work for them; and 23% would invest in a brand they believe displays authentic qualities.

A clear picture has evolved about what today’s consumer demands of a company in terms of how honestly it conducts itself and how true it remains to the brand values it promotes. The take-out is a checklist that should be remembered by all marketers:

Stay true

People expect brands to be challenged by changing circumstances. A company that maintains its original values and high standard of morals throughout difficult times will be more highly regarded. Don’t let challenges and threats undermine good practice.

Deploy transparency

A company that is transparent about its way of doing business, and honest about both positive and negative customer experiences, will build consumer trust. Transparency isn’t a mission statement, it’s a working agreement between all employees and customers that needs to be deployed every day.

Incorporate failure

Customers appreciate a brand that shows it knows where improvements can be made. It’s a sign it is honest and that it cares. From mild customer dissatisfaction to serious institutional failure, there should be a mechanism available by which a brand can take in and learn from any mistakes.

Be clear and simple

A company that ‘does what it says and says what it does’ offers clear and direct value for customers. Over-complicated promises will be treated suspiciously. Ensure you can deliver straightforward benefit for the customer. If you can’t, why are you promising it?

Aim for sustainability

Success and failure are part and parcel of business, but truth is a sustainable advantage. Remember that the truth will always win out in the end.

Martin Bewick Content Lead CPL
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