Brand strategy: Transparent vs. translucent

By Posted in - Strategic Planning on February 20th, 2012 0 Comments

Transparency is an important part of most brand strategies these days.

We all know: When talking with the media, always be upfront and honest about who you represent. When using social media, don’t censor your fans’ thoughts and comments, even if they speak negatively about the brand (unless they’re derogatory or offensive to other users). Always be transparent.

While it’s necessary for brands to keep an honest face and always be clear about their motives, transparency might not be the most accurate word for the goal we’re all trying to achieve. Seth Godin makes an interesting point in his recent blog post, Transparent or translucent?

Here are his thoughts: 

There’s an argument for transparency. If you make it easy for people to see right through you, the thinking goes, you are easier to trust.

The market, though, often seeks out the translucent. Things that glow. We’re drawn to the glow, to the illumination and warm feeling it brings.

We’d like our tools and our replaceable institutions to be transparent. We want the bank and the radiologist and the tax man to be totally clear and invisible, so they can get out of the way and we can focus on what’s true.

But the brands and experiences and legends that lead to stories and affection and connection–it would be better if they glowed instead.

My thoughts: 

Seth makes a good point. We don’t want to be clear and invisible – a state that makes us easy to look past and ignore. We want to be clear enough to show our heart, our intentions and our goals, but bright enough to capture the attention and affection of the audiences we’re trying to reach.

Would you rather be transparent or translucent? What do you or the brands you represent do to be more translucent?






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