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February 7th, 2017

Transparent and Truthful Brand Messages

During the past few months it’s become difficult to decipher between truths, fake news, and alternative facts. Most of us were raised to believe that honesty is the best policy. With that in mind, are you applying that policy to how your brand reaches consumers? What is your message to them—and are you being completely honest? Are you providing a truthful picture of the opportunity you provide? Can users trust your brand and feel good about their experience with you? Let’s find out.

In a recent article on Fast Company’s Design blog, Mark Ralston commented on the recent spate of fake news on Facebook, saying that “truth in digital is an overall concern.” Millions of Facebook users engage daily, and not just to keep up with far flung friends and relatives. More and more people are logging in to find news and content, and don’t necessarily consider how each story is promoted into their feed. Beyond the veracity of the content in the stories, is Facebook being transparent with their users? As each user’s feed becomes more of a trusted source of information, Facebook has a responsibility to be open and honest about information sources and how content gets to each user. The concept of a “filter bubble” has gained traction recently and may be one of the most polarizing components driving individual thought. Facebook recently unveiled a new protocol enabling users to flag fake news, prompting an independent fact-check team to verify content. By engaging the end user in their quest for truth, Facebook is working to build trust with their base.

Security is another issue regarding user experience that’s on the radar. Stolen user data from new online portals seems to be the new norm. Encryption can be broken and privacy can be invaded, but apps and websites demand that users opt in and hand over their data before they can participate, forcing users into an uncomfortable situation. Some consumers are skittish about joining, while others have no qualms, but there are many who fall in the middle. This is not a yes or no question; there are many shades of grey. It might be better to give users options on what information they are comfortable relinquishing. If a user has some ownership in the decision, they may feel more loyalty towards an app or brand in the long run.

Here at BOLTGROUP, we’re working with a healthcare client who needs help rebranding to recruit a younger workforce audience. One solution we’re offering is to unpack current employee’s workdays through short video documentaries embedded in a microsite—transparently showing the reality and the truth of what it’s like to work for that company. The proposition to the viewer is: Here is exactly what we’re all about; are you interested in that, and would you come work for us? The viewer is given a full picture and asked if they would like to know more. By providing the viewer with all of the information and letting them make their own informed decision, we empower them and the brand at the same time. The experiential user interaction we created focuses on a clear and honest approach that has pulled in recruitment numbers far higher than were expected.

In today’s world, the experience is important. How that experience is shaped can have a profound impact on future events. With transparency and honesty, you can give some of the transaction back to the user, and that can create a strong bond over time.

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