Authenticity, integrity, and intentionality– these are just a few of the things that contribute to brand transparency. More than ever, people are listening to what brands are saying and doing. According to a survey by Sprout Social, 86% of consumers value brand transparency. With the circulation of “fake news,” security breaches from established brands, and general consumer trust crisis, it’s no surprise that there is a growing demand for transparency.
“Trust is the single most important ingredient in brand success.” – Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell Soup
Brand transparency can cover the full spectrum from a brand’s core beliefs and values, to its manufacturing process, to the way a brand communicates with its customers on social media. But although there is a clear demand for transparency, only 15% of consumers currently believe that brands are “very transparent” (Sprout Social).
So What Does Brand Transparency Look Like?
One example is Everlane, the e-commerce startup and fashion disruptor known for its high-quality basics and sustainable fashion. Everlane’s mission of “radical transparency” is clearly woven (pun intended) into the fabric of the company’s culture, marketing strategy, and brand vision.
Breaking it Down
Consumers want to feel good about the products that they are buying. You don’t have to be a 100% eco-friendly, ethically-sourced brand in order to be successful, but Everlane understands the importance of a transparent supply chain. The company is transparent with its customers about everything: from the condition of its factories to how their materials are sourced. And each product page details the exact cost breakdown and markup, which is always less than traditional retail prices. With Everlane, you know you’re getting a high-quality product for a fair price.
Social Media as a Tool for Transparency
53% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that are transparent on social media (Sprout Social). Technology and social media are playing an even bigger role in how brands communicate with their customers:
“Technology is changing how consumers shop, and the brands that “get it” are capitalizing on consumers’ desire for transparency, authenticity, scarcity, urgency and craftsmanship.” – Forbes
Everlane leverages social media as a platform for brand transparency through authentic storytelling and delightful customer interactions. The brand is very active on Instagram and does a great job of building excitement and driving demand through sneak peeks, new product waitlisting, pop-up stores, and sharing customer stories. On “Transparency Tuesdays”, Everlane employees answer questions submitted by customers through Instagram stories. Questions can range from how factories are screened, to questions about hiring, to asking an employee to model a pair of jeans.
Another way to build trust in your brand? Feature real content from real customers. Everlane frequently shares UGC and testimonials and sends products to customers and influencers for fit and wear testing, openly sharing the results. It’s no surprise that since 2010, the brand has built a loyal following of customers, myself included.
Brand Values and Integrity
True to the saying “Actions speak louder than words”, consumers are also looking for brands that align and identify with their own beliefs and values. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is another important factor in brand transparency. For example, social justice and human rights are a core part of the Everlane’s values and brand mission: since launching their 100% Human campaign last January, the company has raised $225,000 for the American Civil Liberties Union. They also encourage people to share their #HumanTogether stories on social media to elevate the stories of humans everywhere.
Brand transparency is integral to building customer trust and loyalty. Here are some other brands that model transparency, from the retail industry, food industry, and beyond.
“Better stuff, fewer dollars.” This online company sells high-quality, “brandless” products for simple and fair prices. They utilize a “Just What Matters” approach by following industry best-practices in every product category, from organic cotton to non-GMO chips. They’re also a company that gives back: for every purchase, they donate a meal to Feeding America, and to date they’ve donated 1.5 million meals. Learn more
Even if you’re not a fan of eating greens, you have to hand it to sweetgreen. From the brand’s commitment to sourcing local ingredients, sustainability efforts, community engagement, and great vegetable puns (beets don’t kale my vibe)– there’s a reason everyone loves this brand. “Impact is not an arm of our business, it is our business, and it permeates everything we do, from what we source to who we hire and how we support local communities.” Learn more
Mejuri creates jewelry pieces with exceptional craftsmanship and ethical practices. They follow a similar ethos of radical transparency through the materials they source and pricing transparency. They offer luxury, everyday jewelry without the markups of traditional brands. Mejuri also believes in empowering women and partnered with the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights by donating half of their proceeds from one of their collections. Learn more
A Quick Recap
So what do all of these brands have in common?
Attention to detail: These brands care about every step of their process and want their customers to care too. Whether it’s fair pricing or ethical sourcing, it’s about giving value to the consumer, rather than getting value from them.
Authentic relationships: Aim to build trust with your customers, community, and suppliers. Create an authentic brand voice and utilize tools like social media to foster open communication and build long-term relationships.
Passion and purpose: Paint a clear picture of the values that your brand stands by, whether its social responsibility or collaborating with organizations, communities, and causes you care about.
What are some other brands that you feel model transparency?