What Exactly Is The Purpose Of A Brand In The Digital Age?

What Exactly Is The Purpose Of A Brand In The Digital Age?
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post, the CMO of OpenText, Adam Howatson (pictured below), says now more than ever brands need to double their efforts to build consumer trust. Here’s his tips on how to do just that…

Adam Howatson

Imagine a brand that offers fantastic products and brilliant service but pays its staff below the minimum wage. Or a store that sells wonderful clothes, except they are made in sweatshops that exploit their staff. Or a YouTube video showing less-than-stellar customer service that is viewed hundreds of millions of times. Cases like these are surprisingly common, and make for great headlines – often at the expense of a brands reputation, value and success.

Is it enough to produce a wonderful product if the manufacturer of that product is compromised, or if the company’s tax affairs are dubious, or if the company’s corporate culture makes it a business renegade? In these cases, is the image of your brand living up to the promise that you strive for, or – more importantly – what your customers expect?

Consumers are increasingly putting business ethics at the top of their list of considerations when spending their money. There’s a good reason for this – there has been a collapse in consumer trust that started at the turn of the millennium, and seems to be continuing on a downward spiral. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows public trust to have fallen off a cliff. But trust is real, and it matters.

More than ever brands need to work harder to convince consumers that they are worthy.

This collapse of trust has many sources: from the politics of personality, to the rise of fake news and the labelling of real news as fake; the actions of the few in the lead-up to the 2007 financial crisis, and the political response, and dishonest behavior of trusted companies. The Volkswagen emissions scandal and Wells Fargo fake accounts scam are excellent examples, where a lauded and respected company is suddenly shown to be have behaved in an underhanded way.

Another factor businesses have to consider is the speed of news. Today, news moves at the speed of light. A YouTube video can be online in seconds, often leaving the showcased company desperately trying to catch-up and manage the fall-out. Stories today roll out on social media independently of the usual news outlets. In the old days, brands had an opportunity to take corrective action and potentially kill the story before the papers were printed. With social media, there is no such thing as a news deadline!. By the time a journalist calls for a comment, it’s already too late.

Quality and service are still important, often crucial consideration. But trust has now joined these decisive considerations. Quality, service and trust are marketing’s new Holy Trinity.

It is fair to say that consumers don’t like companies which avoid – however legally – paying taxes. There’s no mystery to this. Customers work hard and pay taxes, and will act with their wallets when a company doesn’t play by the same rules.

Today, for customers to identify with brands and make an emotional connection with them, they have to trust their products and their ethics. Customers have to believe in the brand.

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took two months of paternity leave on the birth of his daughter in 2015, this was a powerful demonstration of the importance of family to the social media giant. In today’s age of trust, actions speak louder than pronouncements.

Trust is crucial because it can be the difference between creating and destroying your brand. Look at Uber and Lyft, download the app and you may never use a conventional cab again. That’s immensely powerful. That’s the speed of disruption. But both of these companies are currently experiencing well-documented challenges from a trust perspective, and recent reports have shown the negative impact this has on the brand – and arguably the whole sector.

Is it simple to avoid these pitfalls? In a word, no. A crisis of trust can affect a company at any time, and from the most unexpected situations. But I do think there are some principles companies and brands should take to mitigate any potential issues.

  • Be consistent. Not just in approach but in execution.
  • Be open. Be transparent and honest in what you do.
  • Be simple. If you can pass the trust threshold, your brand needs to be simple, intuitive and immediate.
  • Be indispensable. Provide a service your customers can’t do without.
  • Be familiar. Be the brand that your customers recommend to others.

These principles don’t just apply to new businesses or those that live mainly in the digital world. They are equally as relevant to long-established household names. And often it is these companies with more to lose. In the age of digital, you competition really is only one click away, and I believe that following these principles will begin to move your brand toward wide acceptance and approval.

Latest News

Pooled Energy Appoints Magnum & Co And The Wired Agency
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Pooled Energy Appoints Magnum & Co And The Wired Agency

Swimming pool electricity retailer Pooled Energy has appointed Magnum & Co and sister agency The Wired Agency to its roster, following a competitive pitch. Magnum & Co will handle Pooled Energy’s social media and PR, while The Wired Agency has been appointed to manage the company’s search and display advertising. Both agencies will collaborate with […]

Masculinity Roasted In Clever New Ad
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Masculinity Roasted In Clever New Ad

Think masculinity means drinking a case without chundering? Well, rediscover it (& possibly yourself) with this top ad.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
WPP AUNZ Partners With Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program
  • Advertising

WPP AUNZ Partners With Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program

Advertising and marketing network WPP AUNZ has joined the Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program as part of its commitment to a diverse workforce, and the creation of opportunities that inspire excellence. As part of the program, WPP AUNZ has welcomed its first three interns: Abi-Leigh Dillon (WPP AUNZ), Amy Mccutcheon (MediaCom) and Jacinta Evans (Ogilvy), […]

Taboo Goes On A Hiring Spree
  • Advertising

Taboo Goes On A Hiring Spree

Taboo has gone a hiring spree. And when it comes to sprees, that's far better than a shooting one or a farting one.

M&C Saatchi Group’s 1440 Shuts Up Shop
  • Marketing

M&C Saatchi Group’s 1440 Shuts Up Shop

Sadly, M&C Saatchi's 1440 is no more. And chances of it being reborn as 1550 not looking much chop either.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Luke Kelly Becomes A Partner At HBT
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Luke Kelly Becomes A Partner At HBT

B&T's not sure what's with that twirly thing in the press photo, suffice to say a vortex to an alternate dimension?

Women In Media Profile: Alison Michalk
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Alison Michalk

If B&T's Women in Media profiles were an animal they would be a gazelle or lioness, or even a lioness eating a gazelle.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Grant Broadcasters Makes Several Changes To Senior Executive Team
  • Media

Grant Broadcasters Makes Several Changes To Senior Executive Team

Independent media company Grant Broadcasters has announced a number of changes to its executive ranks. Grant Cameron will move up to become non-executive chairman for the company, and Alison Cameron (pictured above) – currently the chief operating officer – will assume the CEO role. Dugald Cameron remains responsible for the family’s investment portfolio and is […]

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities
  • Advertising
  • Media

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities

Australian retail out-of-home (OOH) business Shopper Media Group (SMG) has announced a partnership with AI-powered wireless networks provider Mist. The partnership will see SMG offer new WiFi, analytics and location-based services across the company’s portfolio of Australian shopping centres. Mist currently provides WiFi and location services using virtual Bluetooth LE technology to businesses across all […]

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account
  • Advertising
  • Media

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account

Travel organisation Cruiseco has announced the appointment of Sydney independent agency This is Flow (TIF) to handle its $5 million media account. This is the first time Cruiseco has appointed an agency, having managed its communications internally. Cruiseco is the largest and broadest distributor of cruise products in the Southern Hemisphere. With a membership base […]

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd

Need a Monday morning pick-me-up? You could stand naked next to the office fridge or read these inspiring words.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract
  • Advertising
  • Media

APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract

Out-of-home media business APN Outdoor has won the tender for New Zealand’s Queenstown Airport. As part of the new agreement, APN Outdoor has flagged extensive development plans for Queenstown Airport’s advertising assets. The new contract adds Queenstown Airport to APN Outdoor’s existing portfolio of Auckland and Christchurch Airports. The media company will hire a South […]