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Why Successful Brands Should Embrace Radical Transparency

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In today’s marketplace, consumer trust has become paramount for businesses seeking lasting success. A study by Edelman found that 81% of buyers cite brand trust as a deciding factor in their loyalties and purchasing behaviors. With the proliferation of information sources, companies can no longer maintain opaque practices obscuring key details. They must operate in full transparency to earn customer confidence and allegiance.

As the CEO of Carbliss, an alcoholic beverage brand, I’ve witnessed firsthand how radical transparency around all production and business operations drives powerful consumer loyalty and business growth. From our earliest days, we committed to an unwavering open-book approach that has helped cement valuable, long-lasting relationships with our customer base. Below are the four criteria and best practices we prioritize to maintain transparency and customer loyalty.

1. Hands-on customer dialogue

Today’s empowered consumers can easily see right through that disingenuous smokescreen. What they crave from the brands they embrace is true candor about every key aspect, including the ingredients, sourcing practices, pricing rationale, regulatory challenges, and more underpinning the products they consume.

One key way I nurture this culture of authenticity is by being directly involved with a huge volume of customer inquiries myself. This past year alone, I answered around 8,000 emails from Carbliss distributors, retailers, consumers and fans.

Ongoing candid dialogue is critical for comprehensively understanding how customers perceive our brand identity, product qualities, and customer service experiences in an unfiltered way.

Through raw, unapologetic honesty in these interactions, even when the facts may be unfavorable or unpleasant for the customer to accept, we actively cultivate invaluable trust. The simple truth is that you cannot build enduring customer loyalty through automated and impersonal responses or convoluted corporate jargon.

Related: Don’t Talk to Another Customer Until You Learn This Simple Customer Service Secret

2. Shining light on complexities

Embracing this level of radical transparency means being prepared sometimes to face intense scrutiny from confused, perhaps deflated customers seeking simpler truths. We’ve found that the payoff is an extraordinarily powerful brand reputation anchored in truth that ultimately breeds sacred trust and loyalty.

At my company, we willingly spotlight the very details that other brands may conceal or try to downplay, like our need to use “artificially colored” labels on cans despite the colors being derived from natural sources, like the brilliant blue of butterfly pea flowers.

We take every opportunity to explain the nuances of regulatory complexities that result in obligatory technical labeling jargon. We balance that by reaffirming our core principles of prioritizing high-quality ingredients that we legitimately consume ourselves and provide to friends and family without hesitation.

3. A culture of authenticity

As you grow and scale, it’s important to maintain transparency throughout your team. This can be in the form of understanding the intricacies of the product, the runway to profitability, or the purpose of their unique role in the overall strategy. Our employees, regardless of role, deeply understand the ingredients, sourcing, and production methods behind our products so they can convey that knowledge accurately and credibly in their customer-interactions activities.

Our detailed FAQ content clarifies common misconceptions, from our avoidance of artificial colors to our premium pricing rationale based on operational costs and premium product positioning. While some buyers may be dismayed at certain realities we present, we insist on honesty because we’ve learned it’s the only path to fostering long-term customer understanding, respect and allegiance.

Related: How to Lead With Authenticity and Build a Thriving Workplace

4. Transparent best practices

For companies in any industry aspiring to foster powerful brand loyalty by operating in total transparency, below are my personal principles:

  • Be unconditionally open about all business practices by prioritizing clear, forthright communication with customers at every opportunity
  • Have customer-interaction teams be prepared to personally respond to every inquiry with unvarnished candor, excluding no unpleasant truths
  • Thoroughly educate and train all employees on the paramount importance of authenticity in all their customer-interaction words and actions.
  • Embrace both positive and negative customer feedback as a welcome opportunity to demonstrate a real commitment to constant improvement.
  • Ensure all marketing content and messaging accurately reflects the true nature of your products, services, and practices without ambiguity.
  • Be unafraid to openly discuss your company’s genuine challenges, as this humanizes the brand relationship.

Related: 5 Examples of Companies Succeeding Through Transparency

Weathering backlash to cultivate loyalty

Certainly, this radical embrace of transparency sometimes means facing backlash from those who are displeased with newly revealed information that clashes with their expectations. Cultivated ironclad trust and loyalty far outweigh any short-term friction. When you deal truthfully and withhold nothing from your customers, you attract buyers aligned with your values who appreciate your courage and unwavering integrity.

If you’re ready to foster true customer loyalty and propel sustainable growth, it’s time to embrace radical transparency across your organization. Don’t complicate realities; shine a light on every aspect of your products, operations, and business practices. Deal in truth relentlessly, even when facing scrutiny. Your authentic soul and unwavering integrity will attract devoted brand advocates aligned with your values.

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