Legacy Brands, welcome the Capitalism distrust

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Legacy Brands, welcome the Capitalism distrust. In a time of Change, either you’re part of it, or you stay behind. There’s no other selection path. Many times, I get excuses from company leaders, or product owners “we’re small“, “these things are for global markets” etc. But what is your Change program, no matter how small or special you are? People and prospects expect to see it…

Legacy Brands, welcome the Capitalism distrust

One year ago, an article became a public dialogue for Marketing & Communication Professionals. It was the “HEY, BRANDS: almost half of Americans don’t find you honest“, reporting on a McCann survey that uncovered hard truths. The survey was presented at the 4A’s Transformation conference. The 42% of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years ago.

Trinity Mirror (the largest national and regional publisher in the UK), and Ipsos (a leading market research firm) pulled together a comprehensive study titled “When Trust Falls Down” to examine consumers attitudes towards brands and determine some solutions to rebuild trust. Same picture.

Edelman Trust Barometer

From 2016 to 2017, Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer reported the largest-ever drop in trust of media, businesses, and government (the picture is slightly improving for Media in the 2018 survey). Respondents reported trust in business to just 33% in 2017. Does anyone hear this input?

The Internet economy has given consumers that ability to become their own researchers. Before the World Wide Web, consumers were forced to make their own conclusions about brands’ claims. Now at the click of a button, almost any statement online can be contradicted — leading to an overall culture of mistrust. Political terms like “fake news” have infiltrated the common vernacular. It’s hard to trust anything as a consumer, even if the brand’s intent isn’t to be deceitful.

Why should companies welcome this?

It is their opportunity to change and show it to the world and their stakeholders. It’s their time to reposition their Brands, their purpose and their goodwill through long-term changes in their presence, operations, and brand offerings.

The world’s mighty companies are facing challenges as never before: a breakdown of trust with consumers; growing public scrutiny via the lidless eye of social media; populist politicians on left and right threatening to upset the corporate applecart; and, running through it all, the waves of disruption brought about by AI, automation and the so-called fourth industrial revolution.

The disconnect between corporate behaviour rewarded by markets and how society wants companies to behave is laid bare in the Edelman Trust Barometer, which finds that 69% of respondents globally believe CEOs main job should be to ensure his or her company is trusted (well above increasing profits and ensuring high-quality products and services).

Why is this important?

Companies should Change and bridge the distrust gaps because shareholders aren’t only becoming (more) demanding, but they come and go often. The average holding period in a company now is 4.5 months.

It used to be that a shareholder had a liability towards a company he invests in; now shareholders come and go. You might call them as opportunistic investors, but the short-term scope creates a framework that demands that all company executives should shine-through, 24/7/365.”

Read more on the Unilever case, where its CEO Paul Polman was faced (and rejected) the $143bn acquisition offer (or assault) by Kraft Heinz, which is controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and private equity firm 3G Capital.

Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.

Jeff Bezos

A stimulus: “The Future of Corporation”

The Future of the Corporation is a major new initiative led by the British Academy, a fellowship of around 1,400 leading academics from the humanities and social sciences.

The Future of the Corporation is a major research and public engagement programme aiming to develop an evidence base that will serve as a foundation to redefine business for the 21st century and build trust between business and society.

Across the U.S., the “purpose-driven” company is ‘hot’ and asks for serious changes in companies’ old-ways ow working, from the CEO level, down to the bright-eyed interns of the companies. Stakeholders, including top talent, increasingly are demanding companies have a purpose beyond making a profit, and the C-suite itself recognizes that a company’s future success and competitiveness will hinge on its commitment to helping solve society’s problems. That is according to U.S. Fortune 1000 CEOs and other c-suite executives in the first-ever i3 (ignite, imagine, innovate) Index, a national survey commissioned by Covestro designed to examine timely social responsibility and sustainability issues facing Corporate America.

The Index found that many senior executives (51%) do believe there is inherent tension/conflict between a company being profit-driven and purpose-driven. However, most (69%) also say that the act of balancing profit and purpose is having a positive, transformational impact on business, with half or more reporting such impacts as they integrate a purpose-driven approach into various functions.

World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2018

According to Forbes, the world’s 100 most valuable brands are worth a staggering $2.15 trillion. But what brands are the most valuable, and which ones are moving up the rankings the fastest? And how does this all break down by industry? The Visualcapitalist.com has published an interesting infographic (View the 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2018)

There’s one learning tip for you, even if you operate in a very-very local market. The majority of these global brands are a) supporting Sustainable Development Goals, b) develop communities and society-based co-creation initiatives (on R&D, product, and Talent), c) doing changes in their Sustainability policies contributing to people issues. This whole equation (and of course their product, loyalty, fan-base etc) makes them the global brands we know.

Closing

In a time of Change, either you’re part of it, or you stay behind. There’s no other selection path. Many times, I get excuses from company leaders, or product owners “we’re small“, “these things are for global markets” etc. But the reality is that consumer’s suspicion and (first-steps of) distrust is an opportunity for companies to correct and improve.

So, ask only, what is your Change program, no matter how small or special you are? People and prospects expect to see it…

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