The Rise of Brand Transparency
By Julia Gibson
Defining Brand Transparency
Brand transparency is the idea of honesty and openness with the public about how a company is run. This can include how products are made, pricing decisions, company values, and much more. Brand transparency has risen as a trend in the public relations field as many consumers expect more from companies in recent years regarding taking stances on important social issues, sustainability practices, and sourcing labor and materials ethically, for example. The culture of accountability is increasingly prevalent in business, and transparency is one of the best ways for a brand to ensure that they are up to the test from the public.
One of the major benefits of a company practicing brand transparency is an increase in brand loyalty. Sharing good business practices openly creates a culture of trust among employees, stakeholders and consumers alike. However, the cornerstone of this practice is good policy. A company must first ensure their business is being run in a way that is favorable to the public eye. Brand transparency will not be successful if the company is being run by questionable means or on unfavorable values as it pertains to their publics. For example, many people are aware of the controversies surrounding “fast fashion”, or clothing that is produced in mass amounts with unethical labor, ultimately leading to massive carbon emissions. These companies have come under a lot of scrutiny recently as these practices came to light in the public eye. On the other end of the spectrum, Patagonia for example, launched a major brand transparency campaign with extreme sustainability efforts and resources to minimize their carbon emissions, as well as ensuring all of their labor is ethical. Releasing this information to the public has put them in the favor of the consumer base and which will always ultimately work in their favor.
Complete brand transparency does come with the risk of putting the company in a vulnerable position. Especially in the era of social media where people can voice opinions and find a community of people who feel dissatisfied or misrepresented, the company is inevitably opening itself to criticism. The information provided may also be misunderstood by the general public due to a lack of industry knowledge. These risks are often balanced out by the overall benefits of creating a transparent brand and company culture.
A Local Example
Creature Comforts Brewing Co. is a great example of a company practicing brand transparency in the local Athens area. This company shares their involvement in the Get Comfortable Fund in which they focus on giving back to the Athens community through donations to increase literacy in elementary schools. They have also earned a B Corporation certification through their open efforts to decrease emissions by partnering with local farms to source materials needed for their products. Sharing these business practices with the public through brand transparency has created a loyal base of customers who can feel good about purchasing from an ethical company that gives back to the community.