More conservative and regulated in nature, B2B companies sway on the safer side of taking risks. And one risk that too few take, is exposing their companies to being more honest in what they sell and how they sell it—and how important that is to an audience.

honesty-in-b2b-branding

In a study conducted by the PEW Research Center, only 6% of consumers believe in the following statement: “Companies generally tell the truth in advertising.” And that six percent tells us something is wrong. And that something needs to change.

Be authentic and transparent

More than ever, audiences are looking for organizations to conduct themselves and their brand messaging in a more authentic, transparent manner. Yet companies today are too worried about sales and competition that they can easily forget who they’re actually selling to—people. And these people want to understand the values of an organization and its brand—and better yet, see them come to fruition.

There’s almost a fear that by being more exposed is a sign of weakness or vulnerability—that companies should only say as much as they can legally get away with, or even fluff the truth, to protect their image or enhance their current one. But audiences are sick of the smoke and mirrors.

Earlier in 2013, New Castle Brown Ale released its “No Bollocks” campaign that went against a saturated beverage market full of false promises, taking a much more real approach to the brand and what it stands for. And although New Castle is a B2C brand, its campaign shows how a little honesty can go a long way. Communication awareness went up 200%, the number of Facebook fans increased by 1,114% and there was a 9% increase in sales.

Show the human side of your brand

There are many times when organizations have had to come face to face with a choice to skirt around an issue or to be more up front and honest—and those that risked being more honest were seen as more respectable, relatable and human.

In 2009, after a Toyota manufacturing issue led to a fatal crash, company president Akio Toyoda came out with a shockingly sincere public apology—but one that was truly necessary:

“Customers bought our cars because they thought they were the safest. But now we have given them cause for grave concern…They say that young people are moving away from cars, but surely it is us—the automakers—who have abandoned our passion for cars.”

While the apology admitted to failure and showed weakness in Toyota, it also showed the world a human side to a major corporation.

And this human side—one that stems from taking the risk to be more honest— is what more organizations, companies and brands should aspire to if they truly want to engage with their audience.

Candor in B2B marketing

B2B companies need to move away from being “safe” and work toward being candid. Being conservative and fluffy with marketing can come across as insincere or misleading. People in today’s society respect candor and companies being straightforward with them.

Building relationships is a large part of the B2B industry, and with candor comes trust. By using simple language and being direct, B2B companies can continue to build trust with their customers and prospects through their marketing efforts.

By taking lessons from Newcastle Brown Ale and Toyota, B2B companies can begin to change the way that people think about marketing. Don’t be afraid to be authentic and show the human side of your brand. By being candid with your audience, you’ll grow a trusted brand that people will respect.