Recovery Marketing #One – How to remain a trusted brand

Edelmans Trustbarometer has called the past decade The Age of Distrust, with trust in all our institutions, including brands, dropping over the board. And with standards of meaningfulness rising considerably in these hard times, this first Recovery Marketing article will hand you 8 tangible solutions that build, maintain and expand trust.

The past decade

Measured in the 28 highest developed countries, Edelman has found that governments and businesses in the past years reached around or below 20% trust from citizens and consumers. As low as 44% of sustainable claims were believed. While trust in small and medium enterprises remained at a steady 70% as the notable exception, under pressure of scandals and fake news, our faith in NGO’s and science institutions kept dropping too. Even watchdogs, specifically built to maintain trust, were on 32% trust (Havas Trust Survey 2019). In other words, trust had never been this low. And brands were no exception.

Before this corona crisis started our Meaningful Brands® Survey showed that 77% (!) of all brands could disappear without being missed. And all the while 63% of the Baby boom Generation, 76% of Generation X, 84% of Millennials and 87% of Centennials want brands to be more than just products. ​Around 84% of consumers thought companies should communicate honestly about their commitments but only 38% thought they did so… it goes without saying that right now is the pivotal moment to change all that for the better. So, without further ado, here are our 8 trust solutions.

Trust Solution 1 – Meaningful benefits

Fortunately, we already know what the consumer considers to be meaningful brand benefits that build trust. You can cherry pick and translate these to your situation. Through the now 350 thousand consumers worldwide we have surveyed, we can identify three major fields of meaningfulness: Functional, Personal and Collective. Each of these three fields have five major benefits that the consumer considers meaningful above all else:

  • Functional BenefitsGood Quality Products, Delivering on the Promise, Useful Products, Safe & Responsible & Fair Pricing.
  • Personal BenefitsMake Life Easier, Peace of Mind, Me Happier, Life Satisfaction & New Ideas.
  • Collective BenefitsTransparent, Ethical, Diversity, Good Workplace & Benefits Local Economy.

From our point of view, the most important benefits from this list right now are Useful Products for battling the crisis, Peace of Mind for comfort and Good Workplace, which we’ll elaborate on below. And in the coming months you should also add Benefits Local Economy.

Trust Solution 2 – Take care of your own people

Already we are seeing brands’ outside reputations damaged by them not taking good care of their inside workplace. This damage is more pronounced than in normal times. In Edelmans Coronavirus update we find that 78% of people say that businesses have to protect their employees and 63% saying that the employer must share information about the coronavirus daily. Your second solution therefore should be to add value and safety towards your own workers, and most importantly, communicate this to them clearly.

Trust Solution 3 – Reach the government and communities

Edelman shows a surprising number of 55% of people thinking that brands and companies are responding more quickly and effectively on the pandemic than governments. Demand for brands to play a critical role is at 62%. Also 84% call for brands to use social media to facilitate communities. And a whopping 90% of people want brands to partner up with governments. The solution is clear: reach out to governments and communities.

Trust Solution 4 – Make Meaningfulness the deciding factor

The ‘deal breaker or deciding factor’ in brand decisions right now is that 81% of consumer ‘must be able to trust the brand to do what is right’. However, 1 in 3 people have said they’ve already punished brands that did not respond well to the crisis. Meaningfulness is above all else, the deciding factor. People want both an emotional shift to products that meet the challenges (89%) and a functional offer of free or lower-priced products (89%).

Trust Solution 5 – Postpone or adjust your ‘old’ product launches

New product launches don’t seem to be the best strategy at this moment, with 54% not paying attention to them, unless they add meaning to the current situation. This does not mean you should stop innovation altogether, yet that it is best to develop short term innovations that focus on the crisis itself (source: Recessie Marketing 2008).

Trust Solution 6 – Become an educator

Another good strategy therefore is to become an educator (85%) about the current situation that preferably connects people (83%). The tone of voice should be both empathic (83%) and factual (88%) with a clear focus on meaningful solutions (84%), plus awareness of the current crisis context (77%). The positive results of this ‘educator’ shift in tone can already be seen with 37% of people starting to use a new brand because of the innovative and compassionate way they have responded to the virus outbreak.

Trust Solution 7 – Don’t be opportunistic

There are, however, warnings too. The most pronounced is “Brands and companies that I see placing their profits before people during this crisis will lose my trust forever” that is supported by 71%. This reflects the Meaningful Brands® Survey outcomes and should be seen as clear warning: opportunism is the worst possible brand strategy at this time.

Trust Solution 8 – Be careful with your tone of voice

Unless you are a satirical platform, who are showing record numbers of visitors, we advise you to be careful with both humor and escapism, with 57% wanting humorous advertising to end and 42% wishing us to avoid escapist ads. We are not saying you should not use a sense of humor or promote escapism all together, just that caution is advised.

Rogier van Kralingen

I work as an author for Meaningful media and run my own company called The Whole Story where I write about all aspects of marketing.

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