Honesty in Branding

Getting bogged down with all the minutiae of building a brand is perfectly normal.  Building a brand sometimes feels like you’re trying to solve a rubik’s cube—you just keep trying different stuff until you find something that works.  Although it may seem like a mystery, branding doesn’t have to be difficult. Believe it or not, the most important part of branding is honesty.  I know. You’re thinking “Honesty? Really?”  Really.


You want to create a bond of trust with your customers. People can spot a fake from a mile away.  Besides, honesty is the best policy, right?  Instead of racking your brain to come up with the next great catch phrase, why not simply tell your customers that your company exists to improve their lives?  Furthermore, don’t be afraid to tell your customers why you do what you do. We all want our lives to be meaningful and to make a positive, lasting impression on others. How does your company encourage this and contribute to the betterment of individuals and society? Give people a reason to connect with your company and they will.  People love a great story, so tell them yours.

Be the first to let your customers in on the truth about your brand.  Taking the initiative and communicating your brand’s purposes up front is the best approach.  If done correctly, honesty can win your customers’ business and keep them around for a long time.  Why?  Because they feel like they can trust you since you’ve decided to let them in on your purposes. In a world full of spin and cover-ups, honesty and being upfront is refreshing. Furthermore, having that level of honesty and trustworthiness eliminates the need to backtrack with spins and cover-ups. It’s just like any other relationship: opening up to one another creates a deeper bond and breeds familiarity.  I know, I know. This isn’t a blog about relationships, but people are more likely to connect with your brand if they understand your motives.

Focusing on honesty will not only improve your company’s reputation with customers and clients, but also internally with your employees.  Creating a culture with honesty as one of the main tenants has benefits beyond the present moment. Potential employees who share your values will be attracted to your company and, if hired, will play a key role in extending this culture into the future. This culture, in turn, will embolden your employees to proclaim the company’s greatness to your customers.  That’s what you want, right?

Do you want your company to have credibility with your customers?  Building on the foundation of truthfulness and honesty will result in you obtaining the highest form of credibility.


Best of all, being honest is easier than trying to solve a rubik’s cube. It does not need to be an abstract notion. Think of ways in which you can increase your company’s level of honesty and trustworthiness with the outside world, as well as internally.  The dividends will prove to be rich on levels you never imagined.


Craig Johnson is the chief strategist and co-founder of Matchstic, a brand identity agency, founded in 2003 in Atlanta, GA. A native Atlantan, Craig graduated from Georgia State University and has worked on the business side of creative, starting with managing musicians and moving on to become a business arm of Matchstic. His vision for the company was to create a place where smart creatives could thrive and produce work that generates real change for business. A current member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Craig was named to the Top 40 Under 40 business leaders in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Chronicle at the age of 31.

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