Ethical marketing is an integral aspect of your brand: how it relates to you, as a business owner, how it relates to your company’s value, and how it relates to your customers. But what does it mean to have ethics in marketing, and how can that influence your brand overall?

To me, ethical marketing is as essential as any other aspect of your brand. Here are some of the most important elements of ethical marketing, and how they can serve to enhance your brand overall.

The truth will set you free

Bill Bernbach, an American advertising executive and copywriter, once said that, “the most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” Transparency has always been a cornerstone of my work as a marketer, and over the years, with more and more online marketing promoting products and services, the necessity to be honest with your customer base is at its highest.

Customers like to know exactly from whom they’re buying and what the company they’re buying from holds to heart in terms of their mission and best practices. Toms Shoes, for example, holds true to its mission of social and environmental altruism, bringing their mission into every aspect of their branding. This messaging is reinforced in every corner of their website and marketing materials, ensuring that Toms ethical stance is consistent throughout all marketing channels.

Transparency in your branding and marketing means connecting with your targeted audience and demonstrating the real, human side of what your company represents. When your brand consistently reflects its mission and connects with your audience in an authentic way, you’re more likely to get more clients and customers on board.

The times are changing

In order for your company to be ethical, and to remain current, it’s important to be aware of the current social climate that is impacting advertising and marketing. We covered an excellent example in a previous blog where we discussed Gilette’s “We Believe” campaign. Their controversial ad took a hot button topic and presented it in a manner that reflected a revamped expression of their brand. Whether you liked the ad or not, it certainly got a wider audience paying attention to Gilette!

Having an understanding of what’s important to your targeted audience is crucial for every company. This includes the social missions and causes that are important to your audience, which offer an avenue of connection between you and the audience. Regardless of your personal beliefs, understanding and connecting with the social issues that affect your audience is a powerful tool in creating impactful marketing and advertising tools.

The danger of false advertising

It’s not uncommon to receive negative feedback from customers, but when the feedback is a result of a lack of transparency on the marketer’s part, this can be part of a larger issue. If you’ve seen tobacco ads from the 30’s, you’ll know that tobacco companies once tried to market cigarettes as healthy – that’s completely unthinkable nowadays!

I’ve already stressed the importance of being transparent in your marketing efforts, but it’s worth mentioning that false advertising can do an exceptional amount of damage to your brand. For example, in 2008, a lawsuit was filed against Activia for claiming that their yogurt was “scientifically and clinically proven” to boost the immune system and regulate digestion. Activia was forced to pay $45 million to consumers who filed the complaint, and had the claims stripped from their labels.

False advertising doesn’t just cost you money – it can cost your brand its reputation. Although Activia has been working on re-branding, the company has suffered a huge loss, both during the lawsuit, and in sales. It simply does not pay to lie to your customers.

Your business’ marketing ethics are crucial to your platform, providing your targeted audience with an authentic representation of your brand, and connecting with them on a more personal level. By exercising best practices, you are creating a brand that is honest, trustworthy, and founded on a basis of personal connection, offering you amazing opportunities to expand your reach.

If you’re looking for a marketing agency to enhance your brand and help you apply best practices for ethical marketing, contact us today.