Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Branding: What Does Transparency Mean, Anyway?

I have been in quite a few Twitter chats lately either focused on “transparency” for brands, or where the idea of transparency has come up. More often than not, I have watched people struggle with the meaning behind this term. While transparency for branding is not a new idea by any means, social media has done a great job, especially lately, in forcing brands to embody transparency and show a bit more of who they are, and how much they share authentically with their communities.

Who do we buy from? I’m willing to bet that 100% of the time, we buy from people and companies that we trust. I highly doubt that you would buy from someone that you have heard conducts bad business, or from a company known to cheat people. Trust is what businesses are built on, and what leads to engaged consumers that become repeat buyers. Transparency allows consumers to begin to get to know companies a bit more deeply, and if they believe in what they are coming to know, trust has already begun to form with that brand.

So what is transparency? Is it letting the public know what the CEO of the company is being paid, or trade secrets that make up the “special sauce” of each of the brands products? No. There is still a line between transparency and giving out classified info, and smart consumers know this. They know there are certain things that are solely between the stakeholders and founders, while there are is increasingly more that they CAN let the public “in on. When brands first began tweeting, we didn’t know who was sitting at their computer typing out the tweets. Today we do get to know the “face behind the brand,” and brand messages aren’t just about what the company is offering. Today we get to know how the employees of the brand spend their free time, and why they like their job at that company (and sadly for some brands, as we’ve seen, why some employees absolutely hate their jobs and are simply there for a paycheck). It makes it easier today to support brands you believe in, not just because they make a good product, but because they’re also a good company. Transparency can often make the difference between us choosing one brand over another, when they both have nearly identical products and price points.

 How does a brand learn to open up a little more and let a bit more of their teams personalities show through to their community?

·        Tell the truth: transparent brands admit when they’ve made a mistake, or sent out an errant tweet, or put out a marketing campaign that has missed the mark. They don’t ignore it, or delete it, or hope it just goes away. They own up to their mistakes and let their audience know how they will go about fixing the error and changing for the future. Oftentimes what may seem like a mistake that will cost them their business, can be easily forgiven by how well they recover and transparently engage with their community on what went wrong and what they will do to fix it.

·        Engage with open communication: Transparent brands don’t send out broadcasts all day, but rather they take the time to respond to tweets and messages people are sending to them. They make themselves available, even if it’s not on whatever editorial calendar they are working from. They pivot and change and adapt to what the community is asking for and letting the brand know they need, and they do their best to give those answers or resources to their audience.

·        Be a source for your community/consumers: By honestly listening to what your community is asking for and being in the right places where they are talking about what they need, brands are then able to give that information to them. If brands can openly and honestly discuss their corporate identity, their policies and their values, consumers can further realize they can trust this brand to focus on their needs, and help with their decision-making. Employees in a transparent company are accessible and there to truly help their community.

In this “digital age,” transparency helps keeps companies accountable. With more eyes than ever watching a brands every move on social media, “truth will out” faster than it ever has before. HOW a company does things is more important than WHAT it does, today.

It continues to be increasingly apparent that people trust recommendations from people they know more than any other form of marketing such as advertisements. Our trust increases when we see and believe in the transparency of a brand.

Why is every company not transparent? Are companies scared to be too transparent? I believe companies should be more scared NOT to be.
What are your thoughts? What brands do you see "doing transparency right?" Tweet me @lucyrk78 and let me know!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chicago Bears: Post Draft, Pre Season

Feel free to call me names, but I cry every year during the NFL Draft. The idea that we get to watch kids (A. I’m old, B. College aged is a kid!) lives change in front of our eyes, and for the most part, the lives of their families as well, just gets to me. Then there are the kids that against all odds and everything seemingly stacked against them get to live their dream? Tears.

The Chicago Bears seasons lately have also been reason enough to cry, but can the new draft picks change that? After hours and hours poring over whatever tape I could find, and reading up on our picks for all hours of the night, I’m ready to share my thoughts on our picks.

WR Kevin White: While we watched Ryan Pace pick some players to develop, I believe (you heard it here first) White will be a starter this season. Can he fill Brandon Marshall’s shoes? As a huge Marshall fan, I’d love to say no one can, but White seems like he can come close. He’s got the size and speed for the position. If he can work on his consistency of play, which I believe is possible through more time on field, he has the potential to become the Bears #1 receiver. He’s a riot to watch in interviews, his character and enthusiasm just shine through.

DT Eddie Goldman: We could use Goldman in the middle at nose tackle. While we’ve already got Ego Feruson and Jeremiah Ratliffe (who Goldman has mentioned is his favorite player), those two may see some competition with the addition of Goldman. He’s a strong, fast and consistent player. Even better? He’s got his idol to learn from. If the Bears keep him at DT, I think we could see him take the field this season.

C Hroniss Grasu: Without a doubt the Bears needed a Center, but I was surprised we took one in just the third round. (If you’ve read any of my other articles, you know I would have been infinitely happier to watch us draft a new QB). On the upside, Grasu has experience playing with Kyle Long, and is a capable replacement for Roberto Garza.

RB Jeremy Langford: The addition of Langford gives Chicago a pretty hearty running back group. Well stacked. He won’t give Matt Forte any worries of losing the starting position, but Langford could see field time perhaps late in games to give Forte some relief. Langford has a lot of experience, he’s rushed, he’s carried and he’s scored touchdowns. Possessing the ability to be a versatile player will help the Bears.

FS Adrian Amos: Amos has played both corner and safety, and that should help him in the future, but I don’t predict Amos seeing the field much this season. While he is big (which is needed at this position) and fast, I think Pace took him as a developmental player.

OT Tayo Fabuluje: This guys is MASSIVE. He’s huge. He’s strong, but I’ll be watching to see if the Bears make him drop weight, or if he really can be as quick on his feet as he will need to be, at his current size. If I had to guess, I’d say we will see him on the field this season, after watching our O-line lost plenty of players to injury.

This was Ryan Pace’s first draft with the Bears, and perhaps it was lucky for him that there were so many holes to fill. All in all, I’m pretty happy with who he chose – are you? Tweet me @lucyrk78 and let me know your thoughts!