Is it time brands got real and fess up to their mistakes?

brand

What does marketing look like in a post-pandemic world? Lockdowns, social distancing, restrictions, and the subsequent shifts in consumer behaviour meant that brands have had to adapt in the past two years.

More than ever, the consumer is the priority now and your brand needs to stand out for all the right reasons. Previously, we discussed how brands can put the customer first, and one of the key elements is being authentic, transparent, and honest.

How can brands be transparent?

Great authentic brands live and breathe what they do every day, driven by their values. This means that when it comes to being ‘REAL’, you also need to fess up to your mistakes or your shortcomings.

Brands that play ostrich by keeping their heads in the sand when it comes to mistakes, will do more harm than good. For example, Pepsi had to pull their controversial ad with Kendell Jenner that was accused of trivialising the civil rights movement. It was tone-deaf, in poor taste, and did nothing but only help the global brand plummet in sales, worldwide.

Other brands also missed the mark during the pandemic, such as Norwegian Cruise Lines deciding not to pull their new ad campaign despite reports of the COVID-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess being quarantined in Japan. They dug themselves further into the sand when reports surfaced that sales staff were instructed to lie to gain more bookings.

On the other hand, brands that step up and admit their flaws, when done right, can turn the tables. Coca-Cola’s CEO publicly acknowledged the company’s error when media reports accused Coca-Cola of financing biased research to disprove obesity being linked to the drink and shifting the issue to lack of exercise. Coca-Cola, by being honest and (owning up to their mistake), demonstrated a commitment to increasing transparency in research and also emphasised their low-sugar and low-calorie offerings to help combat the obesity problem.

Honesty is an expectation

While saying sorry can be an uncomfortable task, moving forward we are seeing more brands using honesty and not perfection in their marketing. Brands are taking this honesty further by making ‘radical transparency’ no longer so radical, but an actual expectation of today’s consumers.

Take Nike’s “no-bullshit” sustainability strategy for example. Their open communication and honesty paid off in building consumer trust, allowing the brand to experiment and even make mistakes as part of heading towards more sustainable practices.

By showing that the brand is always a work-in-progress while being transparent about limitations, it demonstrates a true sense of authenticity and genuineness. This paves an opportunity for brands to take ownership and be accountable, encouraging customers to relate to the brand in a more human way.

Staying real in a post-pandemic world

Is your brand genuine and authentic? How does your brand handle mistakes when they happen? Getting this right can be a make or break for your brand’s relationship and trust with the customer. If you need a hand with this, Brand for Brands can help. Our branding experts can help you stay real and transparent while meeting the challenges of a post-pandemic world.

Get in touch today.

References:

  1. https://www.voguebusiness.com/sustainability/brutal-honesty-the-new-look-sustainable-marketing-ace-and-tate
  2. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/norwegian-cruise-line-sends-salespeople-lies-to-tell-customers-about-coronavirus-in-leaked-emails
  3. https://brandforbrands.com/building-a-brand-for-the-future-post-covid-and-beyond/
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/business/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad.html
  5. https://www.customercontactweekdigital.com/social-mobile-web/articles/what-do-apple-kfc-johnson-johnson-coca-cola-have-in-common
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