Virgin. Starbucks. Buffer.
What do all of them have in common? It’s not that they have the best “coffee” or the best “cell phone plans,” yet many of us love buying from these companies, including myself. Often, we even pay a premium price.
But if they’re not the best, why do we love associating ourselves with these brands? It certainly doesn’t seem logical to be paying more when there’s better, if not similar alternatives out there. The answer is: brand transparency.
If there’s one thing these companies are best at, it’s the ability to build an authentic brand. It’s how they’ve become one of the leaders in their market in such a short time span.
The continuing rise of social media and additional platforms screams the need for brands to begin humanizing themselves. Consumers are no longer buying from the large conglomerates that have established a presence simply by having a healthy balance sheet and being in existence for 50 years.
Consumers want to know is your “why.”
They want to explore why your company does what you do, and how they can participate in the journey with you.
The rise of technology and social media has given rise to more competition. Since it’s cheaper than ever to start your own business, especially in the software sector, any current or future business will be facing an increasing number of competition in the near future.
And you better be ready.
With the abundance of information available online, consumers have also become abundantly smart. Transparency is the new black. This means if you’re not able to bring your customers and fans inside what’s happening in your business — whether you’re a solopreneur or a 1,000 employee company — you’re already behind the trend.
More importantly, if your competitors are building transparency in the market, you’re already losing trust with your customers. We now live in a world where you are a 140 characters away from destroying your reputation. Never forget that.
So what does all this mean. What can you do in order to start building this authentic relationship with your audience? Let’s break it down into three simple components.
Put a face to your brand.
The future of marketing is in platforms. This is why the leading companies are starting invest in online celebrities who have built a thriving audience in their respective platforms. There’s a reason why thriving celebrities such as Jerome Jarre, can charge $35,000 for a 6-second video on Vine.
Richard Branson has led the way by intertwining his personal brand with Virgin. Now whenever we think of Virgin, we think of Branson. In fact, one of the many reasons why I would choose Virgin over competitors is because of the respect I have for him. The purpose and values for Virgin is clear, much like Branson’s. They incorporate fun, above and beyond the service and creativity in every business they build.
Don't hide behind the name of your brand, get in front of it.
Shut up with your features.
No one cares that your software loads three seconds faster than your competitors, or that you have the cheapest price in the market. People buy on emotions. It’s why we pay $5 for a Starbucks coffee, rather than going to a local cafe next door.
Rather than talking about what each of your features does better, expose your “why” and become bigger than the product and service you’re selling. What are your values? How can you resonate with your customer’s problems in order to serve them better? Most importantly, how are you making the world a better place?
You don’t always need to have the best product in the market to win, but you better have the best story.
Related: Why You Need to Become a Better Storyteller
Dare to risk it all.
Be willing to put everything on the line to build your brand’s reputation and serve your customers. This can mean sacrificing short-term profits or revealing exclusive information to bring your company to life.
Buffer is killing it with this. They’ve revealed everything publicly from their income reports, salary information and even have an open section on their blog. I’m not saying you should start revealing your financial statements to the public, but if a company that has taken transparency to its full potential is a market leader because of it, why haven’t you started?
Moving forward, there will be two types of companies that exist. An honest brand, and Company X. Decide which one you want to be, and which one you want to stand for, because it’s better to show who you are then to be asked who you are.