The data is revealing. According to recent studies, more than half of consumers look for additional information when choosing a brand. Even 70% of your own customers will be looking for more information about your brand, even though they’re already buying it. On the other hand, more than 70% of consumers would be willing to pay more for brands they consider transparent.

Strengthened by the enormous possibilities of information provided by digital media, customers increase their expectations and demand maximum transparency from brands. Therefore, if you want to advance in this hyper-competitive environment, you have no choice but to review how you are showing yourself on the outside, but also on the inside. Whether you like it or not, today getting the loyalty of your customers requires transparency.

What do we mean by transparency?

A transparent brand is essentially one that makes important facts and data available to its customers. Consumers want brands to be more human, more connected, with the ability to establish a direct relationship, and this is where transparency begins. In the past, it was natural for companies to keep some secrets, from how they sourced products to what their environmental impact might be. Today, secrecy is no longer tolerated. Building a relationship of trust with customers means opening access to each stage of the brand journey: this implies transmitting values and purpose but also providing information about production, the organization itself, the impact on society…

Brand Transparency Fuels Customer Trust

Trust is the basis of human relationships, including between brands and people. Without conveying confidence, you will never get your audience to choose your brand over a competitor’s. Transparency breeds trust, they are two connected elements that actively contribute to the success of brands. Trust is not bought, it is earned. Not only will you help win new customers, but you’ll get current ones to repeat customers for longer.

On the road to building trust, it will be necessary to:

  • Finding a purpose. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In other words, people do not connect with a company’s products or services, they are emotionally linked to the meanings that are inside brands.
  • Align interests. The challenge in this regard is that on many occasions the essence and purpose of the brand do not coincide with the behaviors of the team or the interests of the customers. Sharing beliefs is the foundation for moving up the ladder of value creation and trust.
  • Eliminate the gap between expectations and realities. It is essential to align promises with realities. In this sense, understanding how we make others feel, empathy, is the main attribute for developing trust. Make sure to measure the effect caused by each of the brand’s actions, minimizing the gap between what is expected and what is received.

How to build trust with brands

Trust represents the security someone has in another person or something. It’s part of human nature from birth. We all need to trust someone or something to feel safe. Just as in relationships between people, trust is also the basis between people and brands. Our brains are genetically primed to show trusting connections from the start, as well as some empathy with our fellow human beings. Brands achieve trust to the extent that customers see themselves reflected in them. The strongest ones have been able to incorporate the trust factor among their attributes, but maintaining it is often not easy.

Types of Trust

There are different types of trust, brands can generate it by balancing the relationship between each of them:

  • Functional trust. Understood as the way in which the brand delivers its promise, balancing aspects such as reliability, quality or value for money.
  • Relational trust. Referring to the interaction between the brand and the consumer, capturing aspects such as communicating honestly and responding to customers’ concerns by valuing their opinions.
  • Trust based on the contribution of value. It reflects the alignment of the brand with a greater purpose, beyond the product/service, such as treating employees well or contributing to social value.

The road to building trust never ends, achieving it can take a lifetime, but losing it can be a matter of a day. Trusted brands now live between the intersection of two layers: one made up of the personal and social, and the other made up of words and actions.

How to Be More Transparent

Transparency breeds trust, trust turns into brand loyalty when customers trust it so much that they don’t hesitate to recommend it. If you want to increase transparency, consider these 5 key aspects:

  1. Create a culture of honesty: It’s not about what you say, it’s about how you do what you do. Purpose and values determine a culture that must be committed to transparency from the outset. This will lead to how you act in front of your audience, based on how you develop everything you do. Think carefully from the start about the expectations you’re setting for your brand and how you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable to them. A company’s culture with its employees and customers is a reflection of how it thinks. Foster a safe environment for employees to share their opinions and ideas with management, create open lines of communication between all parties. Companies that are honest with customers about any problems generated (shipping, pricing, production, etc.) increase their trust ratio.
  1. It’s a matter of people. Brands are built by people for people. The most successful ones have been able to show their human side. They are not opaque and often have a story to tell. Companies must evolve from a transaction-based system to a relationship-based system. Make information easily accessible: Customers should be able to find information quickly and easily on digital channels. When requesting information, companies need to be honest and provide accurate information. This helps transparency by sharing the reasoning and actions that take place in the business.
  1. Respond to customers: If you build ongoing relationships with your customers, they will become your biggest fans and recommend you to their friends, which in turn will bring in higher revenue. Keep in mind that customers expect a quick and honest response from companies when they come into contact with them. Quick answers can help in a number of ways: for customers asking about products or services, the answer may come to them at a critical point in the buying cycle; It can also ease frustration over a given issue and allow the company to resolve it before the customer writes a negative review.
  1. Stay active on social media: Businesses that are active on social media somehow let customers know that the brand is there and stays on top of trends. Social media is an excellent platform to connect directly with customers and open dialogue. Encourage customer feedback to show that you care about what your customers think and show confidence in the quality of what you offer. In addition, customers trust the opinions and reviews of other customers more than the branded content itself.
  1. Admit mistakes and rectify them: Make no mistake, customers know that no company is perfect and will be better off accepting an apology than a lie. One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is trying to cover up or mislead customers about any issues. By addressing them openly and admitting flaws, customers perceive the brand as more human, without expecting it to be perfect. If the attitude is proactive with regard to providing solutions, in addition to apologies, they are more likely to forgive mistakes and maintain their loyalty thanks to honesty and interest in correctness. On the other hand, be realistic with your goals and don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Transparency is today a crucial part of any company’s success. As trust becomes increasingly difficult to achieve, brands can differentiate themselves by committing to absolute transparency. While “being honest” doesn’t seem like a big commitment from a customer’s perspective, it’s something that can be incredibly difficult for many companies because it increases a sense of vulnerability. Being vulnerable is scary, but today it is necessary to the extent that citizens demand brands to be more human.

Knowing that higher levels of honesty generally lead to greater amounts of success, transparency shouldn’t be something brands fear or avoid. Empower your customers to understand your business, and you’ll also encourage them to fall in love with your brand.

It’s time for transparency. In an era where information is everywhere, it’s safer to provide the information customers want, than to run the risk of them reaching their conclusions in other ways. If you help your customers understand who you are and how you do what you do, you’ll be helping them trust you more.

Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward