Some companies think it's a great idea to lie to their customers, to the government and to the general public. It's not. It's proven time and time again the truth and honest build the strongest brand, make the strongest relationships and build very long lasting customer loyalty.
Is it possible to make by lying, cheating and stealing? Sure, but do you honestly want to live your life that way? I don't. Nor do I want to work with nor be around anyone who does that. There is a clear difference in the level of brand loyalty between companies who are truthful and those who are not.
Let's take a look at a recent amazing example of truth and how they turned a potential PR nightmare into a PR win!
Tesla is a company many of us admire, and rightfully so. They shoot the automotive industry, but more importantly: they are very honest. It's something worth admiring. Take the recent example of a Model S Fire. Instead of letting trying to cover it up, lie or even sugar coat what happened they were refreshingly honest about what specifically, how it happened and even what went wrong and how their car performed under those circumstances:
Earlier this week, a Model S traveling at highway speed struck a large metal object, causing significant damage to the vehicle. A curved section that fell off a semi-trailer was recovered from the roadway near where the accident occurred and, according to the road crew that was on the scene, appears to be the culprit. The geometry of the object caused a powerful lever action as it went under the car, punching upward and impaling the Model S with a peak force on the order of 25 tons. Only a force of this magnitude would be strong enough to punch a 3 inch diameter hole through the quarter inch armor plate protecting the base of the vehicle.
It is important to note that the fire in the battery was contained to a small section near the front by the internal firewalls built into the pack structure. At no point did fire enter the passenger compartment.
Had a conventional gasoline car encountered the same object on the highway, the result could have been far worse. A typical gasoline car only has a thin metal sheet protecting the underbody, leaving it vulnerable to destruction of the fuel supply lines or fuel tank, which causes a pool of gasoline to form and often burn the entire car to the ground. In contrast, the combustion energy of our battery pack is only about 10% of the energy contained in a gasoline tank and is divided into 16 modules with firewalls in between. As a consequence, the effective combustion potential is only about 1% that of the fuel in a comparable gasoline sedan.
They truthfully, with facts, science and statistics, approached the incident and were the first to talk about potential pitfalls and attack any potential rebuttals. They did it rather splendidly.
Another great example is Marshall Bruce Mathers III (Eminem). Listen to his interviews, stories and what he says (I'm not talking about just his songs here). He is very open about his troubled past, how he got past it and how he uses it as a tool to teach the younger generation to avoid the mistakes he made. All that honesty, has built him a music empire. Could he have gotten to where he is today by lying, cheating and being a douchebag? Possibly. But instead he's an pretty darn good guy who shares his story, is honest about everything (reasonably) and that is what people respect about him.
I wish I had a link to this story, but it's from a while ago and it's about what can happen if you aren't honest. A man ran away from him family and moved something like a thousand miles away. Started a new life under a new name and a completely made up background. His cover story held up for a few years, until someone did a little digging. By that time he had a secure job and a new wife and kids. Well, suffice it to say that his old wife (whom he never divorced) met new wife and they (and many others) teamed up on him. He's now rotting away in jail with no money and no family.
Think about this logically: which brands get the most good reputation, the most loyalty and the biggest PR wins and are let off “with a slap on the wrist” when they do something wrong? It's the companies who have a solid history of honesty and trustworthiness.
So what legacy to you want to leave for your children and the future? Do you want to be remembered and eventually forgotten as a tyrant that everyone hated? Or someone loved and respected as a true leader of the industry?
I for one chose to be remembered as a respected and honest leader.