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The Role of Transparency in Marketing

When you’re buying a product in today’s world of retail, what’s the first thing that catches your attention? Is it the nice packaging, catchy copy, the brand? All of the above? I was at Target recently, buying vitamins, and caught myself amused at the humorous, honest copy adorning the label of a certain vitamin brand, Olly. The packaging wasn’t what I was used to, the bright colors were incredibly eye-catching, and the copy was understandable and rather cheeky. There are so many brands saturating retail shelves today and it can be overwhelming to buy something as simple as a multi-vitamin. But that’s when I saw the copy on the back of the bottle:

“Say hello to your body’s new BFF. A powerful blend of essential nutrients to up your overall wellness and help fill the gaps when your eating habits are a little less than perfect.”

I was sold.

Thank you, Olly, for making it easy for consumers to more easily understand the simple act of taking a vitamin daily, especially when we’re faced with more challenging issues throughout the day – translating fancy supplemental facts is the last thing we want to do.

Olly Nutrition’s clear messaging presents an important lesson for us marketers – the role of transparency in our design thinking. Today’s customers are savvier than ever before, they want to buy an experience, something they believe in, that is relatable. Of course, we still want brands that provide unique products and services, continuously innovate, and provide great customer service, but the thing that really sets brands apart is authenticity.

In Simon Sinek’s famous Ted Talk, Start with Why, he discusses how many marketers promote their products and services in the same way – from the inside out. For example, would you buy a computer from someone who sells it as, “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?” Pretty generic, right? You’ve probably heard that style of selling from far too many companies. Or, would you buy a computer from someone who sells it as, “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking different. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?” I know I would. This is a company that knows their purpose, why they get out of the bed in the morning, and how they can make us, their followers, believe what they believe.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Apple is just a computer company, there is nothing structurally that distinguishes them from their competitors. The situation is the same for any company and its competitors. So, what’s the difference? Transparency and authenticity in the way we market ourselves, the way we inspire action.

What can you do to make your company’s marketing more transparent?


  1. Create messages that are both genuine and align with your brand story and mission.
    Consumers can sniff out generic messages from a mile away and punish everything you’ve worked so hard to create by dismissing your product or service in their selection process.
  2. Educate yourself on the customer journey.
    Learn more about the common products your customers are buying and the attributes these products have. When you show consumers you care about their habits and what they like and want, it boosts their loyalty and adds a humanized element to the brand experience.
  3. Stay true to who you are and be honest about it.
    A lot of companies know what they do and how they do it, but many companies have a hard time translating why they do it. One of the biggest parts of the brand experience is not to make a quick sale to a consumer, it’s about making them a brand champion by consistently promoting your purpose, your cause, why you exist, and why they should care.

Marketing shouldn’t be a rat race to promote your products and services against competitors, it should be about giving your target consumers an experience that will enhance their lives. If you embrace transparency and authenticity, your consumers will do the marketing for you.

Author: Autumn Crosier

Self-taught disruptor, brand storyteller, and lover of all things Barbra Streisand, Autumn oversees our creative tasks and finds new ways to shake things up. As Brand Experience Director, Autumn makes sure that every project for eMedia or Clients is on-brand, edgy, and tells a story.

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