Displaying items by tag: culture

What does it mean for a brand to be authentic? It has a lot to do with ethical behaviour but mostly it should be about telling the truth and demonstrating your commitment to this truth. Consumers are seeking out brands that do more than just talking about how great they are, they are looking for proof that the brand is willing and able to practise what they preach. It is increasingly vital that brands rise up to this challenge and prove to consumers they intend to live up to their brand promise.

Authenticity is not something you can create via a campaign. It needs to be demonstrated across every touch point and every moment the brand interacts with the consumer. Most importantly it needs to be true - not just a gimmick. Consumers are savvy and their expectations are high. According to last year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, the expectation on CEOs to step up and lead change was up to a record high of 65%. CEOs and CMOs can achieve this by working together to put brand purpose front and centre of the organisation.

Not only are consumers seeking out and choosing to support authentic brands, they are also actively calling out inauthentic brands (mainly via social media). The speed at which disapproval can spread is rapid, and the digital footprint left is extremely hard to reverse or repair.

As a brand strategy agency, BrandMatters work with brands big and small, established or start-up, to develop an authentic brand narrative and positioning. A brand’s story needs to be rooted in the brand vision and needs to ensure it addresses the target audience in a way that resonates with them and makes them believe the brand truly understands their needs.

In this time of disruptors and game-changers, no market, industry and category is safe from being called out or completely alienated by consumers. In the wake of the banking royal commission - a recent Roy Morgan Report indicated that 1.3 million Australians are considering opening new bank accounts in the next 6 months. In an industry where the hassle often outweighs the motivation, this number is staggering. ING and Bank Australia are two examples of financial services brands who have stepped up with a message that targets these consumers and are demonstrating how brands, even banks, can be good, ethical and authentic.

How can brands demonstrate their authenticity

Customer centricity 

Putting the customer first. This shouldn’t be a new concept, but for certain industries, complacency has taken over - performance has been measured by profits and dividends alone. This view is incredibly short sighted. Brands need to put their customers first if they want to survive long term. 

Longevity and consistency

Brands need to stick to their guns. Once they have developed and articulated their brand position and brand values, they need to find ways to communicate and demonstrate these values. Examples such as Nike, Lego and closer to home Qantas are legacy brands who have consistently demonstrated their values. They have managed to stay relevant and consumers appreciate this consistency because trust has been developed and consumers know what to expect from these brands.

It doesn’t mean that they can’t change, adapt or innovate - but when they do it must be in a way that is in-keeping with their brand position and brand values.

Purpose before profit

In the past, CEOs and CFOs have been told to put the shareholder first. Now, even their largest stakeholders are challenging this, and realising that ethics and sustainability needs to be part of the equation.

Many brands and organisations have implemented a corporate social responsibility policy (CSR), and actively support a charity or support the community in some way, shape or form. The main issue with CSR is it is often seen as a side responsibility that comes after profits. The values that lead to a CSR policy should be shifted over to become part of the brand values rather than a side project.

Brand research

Brands who care about what their customers are thinking and feeling will engage in brand research or brand tracking. Asking for feedback and continually improving based on the feedback will help brands keep a pulse on the market and the needs of their target audience. It inevitably will help them make decisions about the future of the brand and how to stay relevant. NPS is a great way to measure consumer sentiment. Simply put, understanding the likelihood of your customers recommending your brand is a great benchmark of your brand equity and customer satisfaction.

Many businesses have adopted the Net-Promoter Score as their dipping stick into customer satisfaction - if they see the levels change, this can trigger some more intensive investigation or research and lead to changes in the brand strategy.

Examples of brands that have succeeded in demonstrating their authenticity

Airbnb

Airbnb’s brand positioning is ‘belong anywhere’. The idea behind Airbnb (people essentially opening their homes for strangers to share) was incredibly reliant on building trust. More importantly, the trust needed to be two-way. The owner of the property (host) needed to trust the customer (guest) and the guest needed to trust that the offering from the host was authentic and genuine.         

To many, this seemed like an impossible level of trust and convincing people would be no simple task. Airbnb demonstrated their authenticity by implementing a system of support, connection and safety.

Further to this, they are continually standing up and shouting out about the things they value and believe in. Examples of this were their support for marriage equality and also their protest of the Trump travel ban with their campaign #weaccept. Not only did support for these issues align to their brand, but the message of acceptance is one that underpins the trust they have built in their community (both guests and hosts). Airbnb’s entire business model relies on establishing this trust, building relationships between strangers, which is essentially what every brand needs to do.

Bank Australia 

When reading Bank Australia’s vision and values you may well disbelieve it. Bank Australia was established in 1957, originally as the CSIRO Co-operative Credit Union. In 2015 it was renamed Bank Australia and continues its’ focus on ethical and sustainable banking - which is 100% owned by its’ customers.

The timing of the launch of their recent campaign was precise and resonated immediately with consumers who had lost faith in the traditional banks and were looking for a better alternative.

The campaign highlights how the brand is turning its values into action - for example by only investing in renewable energy and affordable housing solutions and not investing in fossil fuels.

 

Trust is earned through authentic interactions

At BrandMatters, we believe relationships matter, a positive relationship between your brand and your customer is fundamental to success. In a world where consumers are bombarded with choice, as a brand, you need to stand for something - otherwise, the consumer choice has no critical path and will end up being about price. Living and breathing your brand values (both internally and externally) will help you develop a strong bond with like-minded customers.

Creating buy-in from your employees - who in turn will become brand ambassadors - is a great first step (read more in our recent blog employers guide to re-building trust in a disillusioned world). Living your brand values internally - with a strong employee value proposition - is a great way to establish how strongly it resonates and will result in your employees becoming strong brand advocates, working from the inside out.

Starting with a strong set of principles, we can help you develop and articulate your brand’s purpose, and most importantly provide the tools to bring this purpose to life through authentic interactions with your customers.

Trust is one of the most valuable assets of any organisation. In the B2B context trust and culture – the values, mission and habits of an organisation – are interdependent. When an organisation has a strong and positive culture and an authentic offer to the market, trust and brand advocacy are built over time. This enables long term bonds between employees, and between employees and customers, to develop. When a brand’s culture, which is brought to life on a daily basis, doesn’t meet the expectations of trust placed upon it, an organisation’s reputation can quickly deteriorate under this scrutiny.

We are living in swiftly evolving times where trust across the spectrum is being eroded. From the Banking Royal Commission and ongoing political instability to fears related to job security and low wage growth rates, it should come as no surprise that the prevailing mood for Australians is currently one of pessimism about the future.

 

The proof? From perception to reality

The Edelman Trust Barometer has been charting major shifts in general perceptions of trust over the last 19 years on a global scale. With data drawn from 33,000 respondents in 27 markets, the Barometer is regarded as a reputable source of information to understand the shifting value and importance placed on trust. The currency of this report is only more potent given our current environment where trust has been found to be so low.

 

Shifting sentiments: key findings

The significant finding in the most recent Barometer was that the general adult population across developed nations is largely pessimistic about the future. There is a general sentiment that their lives won’t improve five years from now. Whilst it was measured that only 1 in 5 people globally think that society is working for them, 75% of these people have faith in their employer. The pessimistic figure is more pronounced in Australia with only 1 in 3 people in the general population optimistic about what the future holds for them.

Key findings from Australia demonstrate an overall negative view, but with insights into where opportunities to build trust may be:

Australia – Key Findings:

  • Only 32% of the general population think life will improve for them in 5 years’ time, with just over half convinced that the system isn’t supporting them.
  • Australian women in the general population have less trust (45%) in the system than men (51%).
  • The top 3 national fears are cyber security (68%), dependency on foreign goods (65%) and a decrease in “the Australian way of life” (65%).
  • Trust in media (40%) and government (42%) is lower compared with business (52%) and NGOs (56%).
  • Trust in “My Employer” is greater than in all other major institutions (including government, media and NGOs), and for Australia is 2% higher again compared with the global rate (75%).
  • Almost 80% of Australians want CEOs to take the lead on change as opposed to the government.

 

Employers: A source of optimism in a pessimistic world

 “People have low confidence that societal institutions will help them navigate a turbulent world, so they are turning to a critical relationship: their employer.”

Richard Edelman, President and CEO

These key Australian findings suggest that this is the opportune moment for Australian businesses to take advantage of the desire and need for trust. Australian businesses and their leaders have the opportunity at this juncture to include trust as a strategic lever, built into their organisational framework and authentically delivered to their audiences. 

This is not just about the delivery of products and services. Australian organisations now take the lead on many societal issues including diversity and inclusion, parity, gender equality, and are key voices and influencers on government policy. After all, who remembers the marriage equality debate, and the leading positions taken by organisations as diverse as the AFL and Qantas?

The findings from the Barometer demonstrate clearly that trust is conducive to many positive and beneficial employee behaviours including advocacy (80%), loyalty (71%), engagement (69%) and commitment (87%). In fact, these insights clearly show over half of the population has an expectation that their chosen employment will offer an inclusive culture (75%), which enables them to actively contribute to and progress in their career (79%). Furthermore, 65% of employees additionally expect to make a valuable contribution to society through their work.

Employees are actively placing authority in their employers to create positive cultures with a vision for the future that is beyond profit generation. Are CEOs able to lead the change a generally disillusioned public is waiting for?

 

(Re)building trust in a disillusioned world

But where do brands start on their trust journey? In the context of trust deficit, how does a brand locate it’s starting position in the context of a shifting market and benchmark itself against agile competitors?

The Barometer highlights the value in measuring trust over time, and measurement provides organisations and institutions a better understanding of the business, societal and political context in which they are operating.

Brand measurement – the tracking of audience perceptions, sentiments, motivations and purchasing behaviour over time – drives an overall view of brand health. And most critically, measurement benchmarks then tracks the levels of trust audiences place in the brand.

The value of these insights cannot be underestimated in driving positive, incremental adjustments in business and brand strategy to further take advantage of building trust and advocacy with audiences over time.

 

Building cultures that attract the brilliant and the best

Earning trust is essential not just from external audiences but also from employees and future employees. Creating an employer brand the demonstrates, imbues and empowers trust is critical in attracting and retaining the best people in an organisation.

And that starts from the top-down. What value does an organisation bring to its people? Brands that develop a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) provide the reason for why people should want to work there. EVPs are built from the inside out and sustained by motivated and committed employees who understand an organisation’s vision, values and behaviours and the role they play in delivering to these.

An effective EVP is a two-way benefit stream of trust, the employer fulfilling its promise kept to the employee, and the employee positively contributing to the organisational vision. Over time, through authentic and reciprocal engagement, trust is a key tool for attracting and retaining the brilliant and the best.

 

Conclusion

The recent Edelman Trust Barometer clearly demonstrates the erosion of trust as a global phenomenon, a deficit that creates an opportunity for organisations to positively and authentically build their brands and take the societal lead. The opportune moment is now for organisations to have the conversation: are we ready to be the new leaders in Australia?

 

Sources and references:

Edelman Trust Barometer

2019 Edelman Trust Barometer

2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Top 10 Australian Insights

2019 Trust Barometer Australia Topline Results

 

Brand trust

Rebuilding trust in the FS industry and its players - it all starts and ends with culture

 

Brand tracking and measurement

BrandMatters brand research

Brand tracking and why it is important

What marketers can learn from NPS

 

Employee branding and Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

BrandMatters employer branding

Winning the war for talent: the employee value proposition