Transparency Will Get You Everywhere

published on September 19 2017
by Harvard Business Review, “Customers trust companies that they feel understand them. They respect companies that they believe respect them in return.”


This article was originally published on the Insititute of Management and Leaders website.


Here’s a question every customer wants to know about a company’s rebranding campaign — what’s in it for them?

The ability to answer this question at each stage of a rebranding exercise is key to retaining customer loyalty and creating ‘good news’ narratives.

“Once you’ve worked out your vision, mission and direction, the next step is to put yourself into the shoes of the consumer [or member],” says Barbara Pesel, Managing Director of communications agency Pesel & Carr. “In other words, you need to become the consumer and work out what they want to hear about your brand.”

Strategic empathy is crucial to getting stakeholders on side with branding initiatives. “It is really about saying to the market, ‘We’re here, we’re listening to you. We’re still relevant and this is what we’ve come up with,” says Pesel.

Some of these perceived benefits might include new product offerings, better customer access, or improved services. “Ultimately, people care about the quality of the product and their overall customer experience,” says Nicole Hartley, Senior Lecturer of University of Queensland Business School.

Transparency is another key factor. “Try to be transparent about the need to re-brand,” says Hartley. “That is, don’t just spring it on your customers, introduce it to them and let them know why this is a benefit to them.”

This overall sense of trust can be broken down in five main elements: openness, relevance, empathy, experience and emotion. And a company’s performance on these key indicators “predicts loyalty outcomes and is clearly correlated to profit and growth”.

“The way in which brands have become very smart over the years is that they’ve stopped talking how wonderful they are, and started to focus on what makes their customers unique,” says Pesel. In the end, companies that demonstrate an ability to listen actively and apply strategic empathy will win them the kind of loyalty they need.