Belief: The Model Alternative Of Our Occasions

Trust: the brand opportunity of our time

Trust is still one of the most important issues of our time: trust in the government, trust in the media and trust in brands. One report I look forward to every year is the Edeleman Trust Barometer, which turns 20 this year. The results come from 34,000 respondents in 28 different markets and offer a unique and credible global perspective.

As is to be expected, the world has problems with trust and it has been in decline for quite some time. But this year there is a strange paradox: Despite a strong global economy and almost full employment, none of the four social institutions covered by the study – government, companies, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the media – are trusted. The cause is people's fears of the future and the role they will play in this future. To address this, the report concludes that institutions need to find a new way to build trust effectively: a balance between competence and ethical behavior.

Of the four institutes measured, only business was rated as competent, which is good news for brands – there is a basis on which to build. And we see many opportunities for brands to prioritize ethics. The study shows that this ethic is three times more important than a competency to strengthen a brand's trust. Here are some options:

  • Think of stakeholders, not shareholders. Yes, shareholders are important. However, be aware that customers, employees, suppliers and communities are affected by a brand's actions. Long-term success is achieved through strategies that improve profits and have a positive impact on the communities in which the brand operates.
  • CEOs have to lead. Leadership means addressing issues that are at the heart of fears that stand in the way of trust. Most of these fears are deeply personal in nature: training for jobs of the future and worry about being pushed out by automation. We have already written how AT&T launched an extensive program to modernize its workforce (those who are ready to make changes). Other brands must follow this approach. Stakeholders are also looking for CEOs for other pressing issues of the day such as climate change, immigration, income inequality and diversity / inclusion. In these times of polarization, CEOs have to balance their fundamental positions on topics without "taking over a page".
  • Employees must be heard. More employees want to be at the table when it comes to shaping the future of society. It is easy to provide a forum if you only have one office. However, when a brand operates across multiple communities, a local organization is essential to ensure that global goals with local relevance are achieved.
  • brand democracy, We have spoken many times about how customers want brands to "do more". Confident buyers expect the brand to represent them and take care of the issues that interest them. For these buyers, governments do not provide an effective way to achieve the change they are seeking, and the media do not provide accurate information. Business Roundtable brought together leading CEOs to redefine the modern company. Greta Thunberg was nominated for a Nobel Prize. There are enough ways to take the action customers want to see.
  • Embrace partnership. If you like history and read books like The Fourth Turning, you know we're at the end of an era. Even if you don't like history, you can probably feel it in culture. The system doesn't work for most people out there, which means a new system is on the horizon. There is tremendous potential for the brand to work with governments, the media and non-governmental organizations to show brave leadership skills and to be willing to take action that affects real change. This applies in particular to training / further education and coping with a future in which automation is a reality. However, it can also cover other issues such as climate and immigration.

The Blake project can help you build a trusted brand: please send us an email with information on purpose, mission, vision and values, as well as workshops on brand culture.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service from The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy that specializes in brand research, brand strategy, brand licensing and brand building

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