Alison, our Managing Director, discusses the importance of brand honesty in light of Honesty Day earlier this month.
Like many annual celebratory days, Honesty Day originated in the USA but, unlike most others, this one doesn’t encourage the purchase of flowers and the romancing of a beau, instead, was designed to promote honesty in politics.
According to former press secretary of Maryland, M Hirsh Goldberg, creator of Honesty Day, the average person lies about 200 times a day (admittedly, some of them are white lies!). In political terms, many of these untruths may be explained away as propaganda or campaigning. But we all know that promises made and un-kept can be extremely damaging to the reputation of the originator.
Few would argue against honesty being one of the most prized and precious qualities in human relationships of any kind. This includes our relationships with brands. In the same way that people form bonds with people who share their values, people also form bonds with brands that live up to their own ethical expectations. Honesty is an integral part of the decision making process that leads to purchase and brand loyalty.
If we consider the fashion industry, with its highly complex supply chains, history has shown how difficult it can be for brands to be 100% sure of the origins of their products and to monitor the ethical behaviour of their suppliers. Yet, it is vital for them to do so if they are to maintain their customers’ loyalty, as brands like Primark and H&M have found to their cost. Whether they were guilty of knowingly buying from unethical sources, or were the victims of suppliers’ dishonesty, the legacy of their issues will continue to damage their brands for many years while they rebuild customer trust.
When crisis strikes, there is much truth in bestselling author and entrepreneur James Altucher’s words: “Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure”. But, the harsh reality is that once the damage is done, it can take many years to rebuild trust in a brand’s honesty.
As an agency founded on the principles of a conscious business, honesty is embedded deep in our culture. Our brand of honesty isn’t the ‘honest guv’nor’ variety sometimes associated with the ‘spin’ of agency operations. It is a real, deep rooted honesty which we communicate through our core values, helping to keep us on-brand in our internal and external operations.
In the words of William Shakespeare: “No legacy is so rich as honesty”.