by Breean Miller. Originally posted on HBG's Brand Innovation for Health blog.

In our networked, connected society, consumers are demanding more transparency than ever. 

It’s not a “nice to have.” It’s a “must have” for companies of all sizes. In response, companies have to stop developing “messaging,” and start telling authentic stories.

Digital media allows brands to create an ecosystem of touch points where consumers can explore, engage with company stakeholders, and peer behind the curtain. Consumers get a firsthand look inside, a behind-the-scenes, all-access brand experience. And this experience allows them to connect with brands on a whole new level – an emotional level.

Levi’s is one company that’s getting things right. They tell stories – through their advertisements, both print and video.

They recently produced a video showcasing the inspiration behind their Fall 2012 collection, focused on authenticity and featuring coastal craftsmen and handcrafted traditions.

But Levi’s didn’t just produce a groovy video. They also reached out to their fan base and invited influential bloggers to join them on a journey of inspiration. 

A select few bloggers discovered coastal Maine, taking in the sights, sounds and sources of inspiration for the Fall ’12 collection. They made memories and connected with the brand on an emotional, guttural level. And when they relayed the Levi’s inspiration story, they told it from their own perspectives, in an authentic way.

As transparency becomes a necessary function, companies have to spend time (and money) realigning their brands with their corporate culture. If companies aren’t living the brand – if they are not authentic and genuine – then consumers can see through the clutter of messaging and marketing jargon.