Brands: A Crisis of Trust

The latest event that captured ActiveWin’s interest was one of the famous MPA Big Debates held in the Neo Building.

In a city heavily focused on the digital and marketing industries, holding a debate about ‘brand trust’ was going to stir some interest. And it did. The event has managed to attract a full house, and if it wouldn't have been held so late, people would have probably dissected this intriguing topic even more.

The event had the perfect mix. MPA, location and great panellists. The panel was formed of 4 professionals from different areas of marketing: Liz Bielinksa – Founder of Planning Express, Chris Garratt – Founder of Bert, Caroline Sanger-Davies – Director of Marketing at Chester Zoo and Jamie Dodds – Head of Marketing BBC Children’s.

Consumers’ lack of trust towards UK brands was the main topic of the evening.  Is trust really falling?

According to the Reputation Institute’s RepTrak report, trust in brands to ‘do the right thing’ dipped by a whopping 10% in 2017. Meanwhile, just 38% of consumers said they were prone to recommending brands, a fall of 7%. On the other hand, studies show that 74% would boycott a brand that they don’t trust anymore.  

According to Liz Bielinksa, people are starting to like smaller brands, because they are really trying to make a difference in comparison to big corporations. Have a quick think of the brands that you admire, and you’ll probably reach the same conclusion.

Moreover, according to Chris Garratt, founder of Bert, besides trust, the behaviour of the brand is as important as the product you buy. As the debate evolved, the question of ‘should we rely on trust as a metric’ has arisen. People rarely do what they say, so perhaps sales figures are a more suitable metric to measure the brand success. Or should we call them metrics? People tend to buy stuff based on their behaviours and attitudes.

Key elements of trust are transparency and authenticity. In a nutshell, be who you say you are, because people can find out easily if you are lying or not. Moreover, companies have the responsibility to behave in the right way, not only towards their stakeholders and shareholders but towards future partners as well. Furthermore, if a brand has to apologise for something that went wrong, the apology should be timely, otherwise, it might look false, which would be certainly counterproductive.

The conversation was far from being over at this event, but it certainly left everybody wondering what’s the best way to measure trust.

Why not let us know your thoughts by sending a tweet to @ActiveWinLtd?