It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something. It’s another to actually do it. In today’s always-on, digital world, where everyone is a click away from your brand, you better believe people are always watching. Because of that, brands must ensure they do what they say they are going to do, remain accountable, and follow through on their promises. If they don’t, they risk losing trust as a brand. So, how can you not only talk the talk but walk the walk in order to establish your brand as trustworthy and transparent?
The first step is to take a critical look at your brand promise. Then take action on it.
Talking the Talk but Failing to Walk the Walk
With having a brand name that insinuates that your brand is trustworthy and transparent, you better be just that. Unfortunately for The Honest Company, a consumer goods brand founded by Jessica Alba, their name turned out to be an inaccurate reflection of who they were. The Honest Company prides itself on truthful marketing and using only safe, nontoxic ingredients in its household cleaners, diapers, and personal care products. All of the company’s products feature an “honestly free of” label followed by a list of toxic offenders that you won’t find in their products.
However, its products have not turned out to be all that “honest.” The company has received backlash and faced multiple lawsuits due to their lack of transparency on what is really inside their products. In March of last year, the Wall Street Journal published an article detailing results of two lab tests they commissioned on the company’s detergent. Both tests found that the detergent contained SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), which the company claims is not used to make their products as noted on their “honestly free of” label and statements. After this, and a class action complaint about deceptive advertising, Honest saw a negative drop in sales in April 2016.
Today, Honest is working towards walking the walk, with the reformulation of its detergent using a new surfactant system and the release of its first-ever brand campaign “Honest Moments.” The campaign is a collection of videos highlighting each of its product areas through real-life moments. While reformulating its detergent is a move in the right direction, and the campaign is unique and captures the story of the brand, its products continue to fall flat on the promise of being honest.
This January the company had to do a voluntary recall of baby powder due to possible contamination with microorganisms that may cause eye and skin infections. Making the decision to do the voluntary recall is smart, but this instance will most likely hurt the credibility of its products again. Since then the CFO and COO David Parker also departed, as well as Co-founder and President Sean Kane. The future isn’t looking terribly bright for a brand that is known for its brightly decorated diapers.
Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk
A brand that is certainly walking the walk, or you could say running, is fast casual dining chain Panera Bread. In 2015, the brand made a promise to its diners that it would achieve 100 percent clean food by the end of 2016. With the help of health experts, Panera Brand compiled a list of 96 ingredients and additives that it wanted to remove from the food in its menu.
Now, Panera Bread has stated that they have achieved their goal of becoming 100 percent clean, which they define as free of artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners or colors from non-naturally occurring sources. There is a growing expectation for greater transparency, and Panera Bread, in recognizing this, is taking the actionable steps to meet their customers’ demands. Through all of the changes to the restaurant’s menu they have provided consumers comprehensive updates. By being transparent and trustworthy, the company saw comparable-store sales rise 4.2 percent last year, as well as a 9 percent rise in year-over-year growth in non-GAAP EPS.
To walk the walk, there are specific action items we recommend you take. In our eBook, “Trust & Transparency: How Much Equity Does Your Brand Have?” we provide clear actionable steps to take towards making your brand trustworthy and transparent. Download your free copy here to learn more.