Corporate Eye

2010 – The Year of Brand Transparency, Honesty and Trust

brand_honestyEarlier this month, I wrote an article that was published on where I listed 10 marketing trends for 2010.  The top trend on that list was transparency and trust (which includes honesty), and that trend should define 2010 for brand strategy.

The question is – will companies actually follow the trend like they should?  Some will, but unfortunately, more will probably not.

So why are transparency, honesty and trust so important for brands in 2010?

It’s simple.  Consumers aren’t naive anymore.  There was a time when consumers believed the marketing messages in ads.  There was also a time when many people believed in political propaganda, but thankfully, with advances in communications and technology, more people than ever can see through those skewed messages.  The same holds true with advertising claims.

Banks have collapsed, economies are faltering or failing, auto manufacturers took multi-billion dollar bailout packages, and many consumers have lost their last hopes that the pie-in-the-sky claims made in ads are even remotely true.

And that’s why transparency, honesty and trust are so important for brands in 2010.  Give people something to believe in.  Create expectations for your brand in consumers’ minds that they can believe and rely on.  Then, deliver on those expectations every time and in every customer interaction.

Make them believe in your brand through truth, not veiled propaganda.

Yes, I’m a copywriter and I’m saying this.  It might seem like a contradiction to say I’m a copywriter and promote a brand strategy of transparency, honesty and trust in 2010.  However, successful copywriters, brand managers, and marketers understand that the world has changed thanks to communications and technological advancements like Twitter, social networking, online video, and more.  Brands that stretch the truth are called out faster than ever and word of a brand’s dishonesty will spread faster and farther than you can imagine.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and you need to analyze your brand, audience, competition, and so on before you modify your own brand strategy for 2010.

In fact, that’s a great area for discussion here on the Corporate Eye blog.  What brands, industries, categories, etc. would fare better to avoid embracing the transparency, honesty and trust trend?  Can you think of any?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.