Trust is a virtue for individuals but trust is an asset for businesses. And earning trust keeps adding on to the businesses’ goodwill. Interestingly, goodwill is even a part of accounting practice and is considered an intangible asset when a business is being acquired by another one. However, let us focus at the moment on communications practice, which continually works towards building goodwill. Through various tools and techniques, communicating in a transparent and data-backed manner corporations can facilitate the building of enhanced trust among their stakeholders.
Transparency is the key to communications. How much information companies share about their business, growth, employees, environment, and social issues affecting their businesses openly and transparently ensures the creation of image among the minds of their stakeholders. Transparency of communications yields a great value for the brands in both the short-term and long-term. They become credible, follow-worthy, trusted, and eventually end up contributing significantly to growing the top-line of the companies.
All brands have numerous touchpoints as far as their stakeholder environment is concerned. Each touchpoint is affected by the brands’ communication in some or another way. Whether it is manufacturing practices, sales and marketing practices, human resources practices, or dealing with competition is concerned, if the companies share information transparently it only adds to their credibility.
Brands are like human beings. They connect with the audience almost like the people connect. There are issues of mutual trust, beliefs, confidence, faith, and relationships while dealing and interacting with each other. Transparency upholds the relationship of brands with their audiences forever if it ensures covering multiple touchpoints through communication.
If a food company procures grains or raw materials from farmers in an ethical manner contributing to their financial growth and happiness, if a pharma company follows ethical guidelines of developing a treatment method, if a financial services provider upholds the customer value above their short-term gains, if a chemical business ensures environmental safety and has robust practices of hazard prevention, they can talk about all of this through communication to their stakeholders.
As I said, brands are like human beings and they can also make mistakes. Why not admit them? If brands make mistakes, which can have a severe impact on the lives of their customers negatively, it also erodes the value of the brands. Brands must own up to their situation, admit their mistakes, and share the steps/measures taken as a course correction to ensure that their customers make up for what was lost. Such transparency shown by businesses will enhance the trust of their customers and stakeholders across the value chain.
In today’s internet age when the information is abundantly available, when the news spreads faster than the wildfire, when there are plentiful channels of emotional outburst available, when there are enough trolls and rumour-mongers present on social media, and when there are fake-news factories constantly churning out content that can be potentially damaging for the companies’ reputation, it becomes most critical to hold the truth. That’s where transparent communication if done consistently, establishes a great image of the business as trustworthy.
If the companies have been transparent about themselves over the years, have taken responsibility towards their actions, and have been putting this information in the public domain consistently, their images are fortified into an unbreakable trust among all their stakeholders.
Covering up, denials, putting things under the carpet, diverting attention from real issues, not coming out clean and disowning their actions, not being honest and transparent, businesses can often jeopardize their image severely.
In an intensely connected world, corporate transparency is continually becoming a virtue not to be missed out on by businesses, if they have to retain and add value over the long-term.
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