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Transparency makes celebs and brands more human Why brands should copy celebrities’ transparency

Bands and celebrities have figured out since the modern age that being authentic is easier than being fake. The definition I like to use of an authentic image for a celebrity is making sure your public image matches (the major part of) your own personality, because that way you don’t have to fake anything when you’re in the spotlight, as you can be yourself. Of course, as a celebrity, you’re very aware of the difference between what you publicly reveal versus what you keep private and secret, but in terms of identity, lifestyle, values, personality and character most successful celebrities are not different in real life compared to in public life. The question remains of course how to show your authenticity.

Consider Madonna’s then-bold move in 1991 when releasing her blockbusting documentary Truth or Dare: In Bed With Madonna. The concept was simple and powerful: she allowed director Alek Keshishian to film her on- and offstage for a whole summer during her Blond Ambition World Tour and forgot about the cameras being around. Madonna was shown in all her facets, not just the performing one. So one minute she’s performing a blow job on a bottle, the next you see her as the vulnerable little girl, then she’s a control freak over the show and next she’s being maternal with the dancers. The success was enormous. It actually became the highest-grossing documentary of all times at that point. The impact for fans and critics was huge: people started seeing Madonna even more as an icon with a plan rather than merely as a superficial hit machine or pop star. It made her a person of flesh and blood. In fact, it gave her public image more substance, more character and more personality.

The fact is: when cameras are filming, at first you feel self-conscious, but after a while you forget about the cameras being around and then, so it seems, you can no longer fake authenticity.

A lot of other celebrities have followed in her footsteps since. Katy Perry’s ‘Part of me is a more recent example of that same look behind the scenes-technique: let people have a look at the closed world of celebrities and they’ll follow you en masse. Actually, the movie’s subtitle coins it really well: be yourself and you can be anything. And it also happens to be the perfect way to put up a fight against the tabloids that keep inventing lies about you: it’s one of those ways to control what you reveal and what you keep a secret.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: What brands can learn from @Madonna & @KatyPerry insit.es/1ElIsEq by @hakimzemni via @CoolBrands #millennials #geny

Katy Perry Part of Me

So, what can Brands learn from Bands?

Let’s be honest. Brands are probably more secretive than the CIA and NSA combined. Brands tend to protect and control too much and hide their processes from the public. However it is crucial to open up the doors and let the consumers/users in. Showing what you do, how you do it and who is doing it should be part of all self-respecting 21st-century companies and organizations. Transparency is appealing in a raw and human way. You can’t really be friends, close to or connected with someone unless there’s some level of transparency.

With social media booming, progress has been made, of course, but most companies still use their social media accounts mainly to send-to-many or for one-on-one problemsolving rather than to truly open up their doors.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: Brands should truly open up their doors for consumers insit.es/1ElIsEq by @HakimZemni via @CoolBrands #coolbrands

Take DOMO, the business intelligence company headed by CEO Josh James. Realizing the importance of opening up, James informed his employees that in order to keep their jobs each and every one of them needed to complete 20 social media tasks over an eight-week period. The tasks ranged from updating their Facebook profile to creating a few circles in Google+, starting up a blog, creating a playlist on a music service like Pandora or Spotify and more. As a reward – and in addition to keeping their jobs, that is – the staff received badges; there were also rewards for individuals who accomplished their goals. And if the entire company met its collective goals, everyone got a free day off. James rightfully thought the wrong concern about this experiment is ‘How will my employees feel about this’, whereas the right concern is, “What am I risking by NOT having my employees use social media?”. James now says the impact on DOMO has been priceless. He also discovered the experiment actually brought his employees closer together and also brought his company closer to its customers.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: How @Domotalk opened up to consumers insit.es/1ElIsEq by @HakimZemni via @CoolBrands #coolbrands

DOMO Josh James

Open up the doors and consumers will let themselves in, so it seems. There are no absolutes of course but when done strategically and appropriately, transparency will result in the public feeling better informed and more trusting.

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