It seems the days are gone when we trust easily. From individuals to organizations, our trust seems to be declining with each passing year.
And yet organizations build their brands on trust.
In his newly released book, The Post-Truth Business: How to Rebuild Brand Authenticity in a Distrusting World, researcher and strategist Sean Pillot de Chenecey shares what brands need to do to have authentic, long-lasting relationships with their consumers in an age of fake news, privacy issues, and the search for truth.
The Number One Issue Facing Brands
Your view on the importance of trust is clear from the very first page where you say, “Trust is the number one issue facing brands on a global basis.” What leads you to this conclusion? How is this different than years ago?
Around the world, brand foundations are being shaken. It’s apparent that many brand-consumer relationships are on rocky ground, and something fundamental needs to change.
According to The Economist, “Consumer trust is the basis of all brand values, and therefore brands have an immense incentive to retain it.” And as that immensely powerful business-figurehead Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, stated so succinctly, “Once you have trust, the rest is easy.” However, these statements are set against a harsh reality illuminated by a much-cited industry report from the Havas agency, which noted that, “Much of the trust, respect and loyalty people had for many brands has disintegrated. You see it in the level of cynicism, skepticism and indifference that people have towards them.”
Company strategists are finally realizing that consumers are increasingly judging brands by how they actually behave, as opposed to simply believing the stories they tell. Thus, their brand credibility needs to be based on fact, not fiction. Businesses want to have strong and long-lasting relationships with their consumers. That brand-consumer relationship is built on trust, but in a post-truth world, brands are faced with a serious challenge: so much of modern life is defined by mistrust. So, for brands today, trust and truth are the most important games in town.
How to Build Trust
Share a few of the principles organizations should use to build trust.
To act as a reference guide for the leaders of ‘good businesses,’ I’ve collated the key learnings into a ‘Post-Truth Brand Manifesto.’ Here is a very brief summary of it…
Truly authentic companies that want to earn and keep our trust have to ‘live it like they say it’ and dovetail brand intentions with the consumer reality. Because from a customer point of view, behavior is what builds brand credibility and corporate integrity, not merely the advertising stories that a brand may choose to tell.