March, 2023 Dan Cabacungan

Why Transparency Matters to Stakeholders

We’ve been incorporating the concept of Brand Integrity into our work with companies of all stripes - the world's largest tech ecosystems and newly minted startups, consumer goods and B2B partnerships. It's not a new concept; but along with the increasing complexity of customer and partner relationships, the ways we can understand, measure, and manage Brand Integrity have evolved far beyond the idea of "doing business with a handshake." 

We see the returns on Brand Integrity as predictable, measurable, and directly impactful on business metrics. And, in our experience, brands that display a high degree of alignment between what they say they stand for and how they behave benefit from a multiplier effect in everything from the speed of doing business, to earned media generated, to reduced cost of acquisition, to increased employee retention.  

Brand Integrity defined: In short, Brand Integrity is the degree to which the actions that a business takes are consistent with the stated purpose and positioning. Highly aligned brands benefit from a multiplier effect – when the purpose is reinforced in every stage of the customer and employee experience, investments in everything from marketing to recruiting to R&D just go further. 

 Brand Integry Mapping

What if your customers could see firsthand all the opportunities,
truths, and intentions that guide your business?

One accessible way to start examining Brand Integrity is through the principle of transparency. After all, aligning what you say and what you do is easy when you adopt a policy of letting your stakeholders observe what you’re doing firsthand, as insiders. It’s one topic that many brands are finding inevitable – people have too many tools to learn what they want about the brands they consume, and an equally large number of platforms to share how they feel about it. It’s not enough to simply have nothing to hide – ignoring customer and employee questions, avoiding relevant political and social issues, and even a low-frequency of social media posts are all factors in customers feeling a “lack of transparency” from your brand (Social Media Transparency report, Sprout). 

At a minimum, practicing transparency is about counteracting the noise by offering people better information to make decisions. Choosing transparency means placing the tools to hold your brand accountable into the hands of your target audiences. As a part of your brand strategy, transparency is about viewing your operations as a critical part of your brand story and embracing it. 

“All of this will require more and better information—not just to improve transparency, but to drive change. By improving the quality of information out there, companies will empower stakeholders, including investors; the latter will reward companies that are delivering for society and managing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, and they can apply pressure to organisations that are not." 
Time for Non-Financial Transparency, PWC

Transparency is valuable as a driver of trust, preference, loyalty – and forgiveness. In the eyes of most consumers, it’s far better for a brand to recognize when they’re not perfect and own it than for a message to be seen as obscuring the truth. For example, Patagonia, a leader in sustainable business practices, not only uses supply chain transparency in order to help customers make better choices, but they’re the first to admit when they fall short of their own definition of sustainability. 

“Purchasing offsets to get to carbon neutral doesn’t erase the footprint we create and won’t save us in the long run. If our goal was to cut emissions from our owned and operated stores, offices and distribution centers, we’d be good. But the bulk of our emissions—95 percent—comes from our supply chain and materials manufacturing. We take responsibility for all of it.”
– Patagonia, Climate Goals,

  • 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.
  • 53% are likely to consider brands that are transparent on social for their next purchase.
  • 86% of people are likely to take their business to a competitor if they feel a brand lacks transparency on social platforms.
  • 89% of people say a business can regain their trust if it admits to a mistake and is transparent about the steps it will take to resolve the issue.
Source: Social Media Transparency report, Sprout

There's a detrimental way to see transparency - "We want to get credit for all the value we're delivering to customers that's going unnoticed or unappreciated!" It sets unrealistic expectations because it assumes that your audiences aren’t informed, or that they don’t value what you see as important. Worse still, it’s a message to your audiences that they don’t have the right priorities in place.

There's a workable, practical way to look at transparency as a brand strategy. It starts by exploring many different areas where businesses typically let audiences behind the curtain as a part of their strategy (see Figure 1). Then, it zeroes in on the areas where transparency can most reinforce your brand purpose and positioning by taking a hard look at which facets of your brand experience are important enough to who you are that they would never change, regardless of visibility to customers (see Figure 2).

Exercise Framework

Where is there an opportunity for transparency to be transformative for your brand? 

Figure 1:

TransparencyBIntegrity_ExerciseFramework_Step 1

Figure 2:

TransparencyBIntegrity_ExerciseFramework_Step 2

Choosing transparency means placing the tools to hold your brand accountable into the hands of your target audiences. Ultimately, transparency is about viewing your operations as a critical part of your brand story and embracing it. 

Get in touch and together let's assess your company's Brand Integrity.

Next Post

To Kia, or Nokia?

To Kia, or Nokia?