Friday, 12 October 2012

Put your trust in brand communications

I’ve been going to the IGD Convention for a good many years now and each and every year the one thing that keeps CEO’s awake at night changes. It used to be health, then it was sustainability and now it is fundamentally about the erosion of consumer trust and importantly how to rebuild it in order to win back loyalty. It’s an extremely tough challenge in today’s increasingly transparent and digital world. Consumers are better informed and connected than ever before. 65% now own a smartphone and they are demanding more and more product information. But it doesn’t stop there, they also want to know about a brand’s whole code of conduct, its principles and its ethos. Brand communications are therefore critically important. The key is ensuring they are timely, honest, informative, relevant and interesting. If they are, consumers will then be compelled to share them with other people. PR stands for Public Relations but increasingly for me it stands for Positive Relationships. A two way dialogue that creates a positive affinity between consumers and brands which can be used to positively disrupt and enrich the shopping experience at that critical "Actual Moment of Purchase", as identified by Asda Chief Operating Officer Judith McKenna.

Banks, MPs and businesses have an all-time low level of trust with consumers and therein lies the opportunity. Companies and brands who are ready to stand up and be counted and invest time, effort and money in fully understanding how to build positive relationships with their consumers and thereby demonstrate themselves to be worthy of their trust, will certainly win. As Diageo’s President of Europe, Andrew Morgan said: “Customers need to trust something - with careful stewardship brands can fill that vacuum.”  And for me this is certainly not a short term brand strategy, it needs to be a long term brand commitment. This is why I believe trust will remain a key strategic challenge discussed at the IGD Convention and keeping CEO’s awake at night for a good many more years to come.

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