Covid-19 has caught us off guard. Governments, Institutions, Organizations, Companies and Brands have been overwhelmed in a short time by a situation for which no one was prepared. This “anomaly” in the system, framed within the general uncertainty, has led to the need to consume data, to find information that allows conclusions to be drawn and a strategy to be adopted with the greatest guarantees of success. The truth is that the trust factor has always been part of the equation.

Among other studies that are emerging at the moment, I will highlight some data from the Edelman Trust Barometer , which has been recently updated with a full understanding that the rules of the game may have changed. It is clear that brands are called upon to play an important role in society at this time:

  • Some 62% of global respondents said their country will not overcome this crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing the challenges.
  • Fifty-five percent said brands and businesses are responding faster and more effectively than government.
  • 71% recognize that trust in brands that demonstrate a direct benefit to people will grow forever.

The thing is, this is not the time for opportunists, trust is not something you earn with advertising campaigns, trust is built over time. The strongest brands are strong because they have been able to incorporate the trust factor into their attributes and maintain it over time. This is a value that is not achieved with words, it is achieved with deeds. If brands want to avoid falling into contradictions, losing all kinds of trust, they must be authentic, or in other words, transparent and honest.

With consumers so focused on the social impact brands can have, they need to act on their values and promises. While creating a marketing campaign around a social issue may get attention paid to it, it won’t do any good if other aspects of your business don’t support the same beliefs.

In the words of Richard Edelman, the new world will have trust at its core, with an expanded role for brands in protecting society, collaborating with everyone, and innovating in the public interest.” Now, more than ever, brands must step up and do their bit for society, each adapted to its reality, whether it’s protecting employees, collaborating with governments, or supporting other industry players to develop essential products or provide key services.

There are already many examples of this change in the role of brands: Inditex, Seat, Grifols, Room Mate, Iberia, Naturgy, Endesa… And a list that continues to grow, among which it is worth highlighting the role of brands that have less notoriety, where their effort is even greater.

Within this framework, Corporate Responsibility has gone from being an optional area in Companies to a value integrated into their DNA. The index of responsibility of brands in terms of their involvement in social issues has grown by 10%. Now we may be on the verge of moving to another higher level that has been debated for some time. Assuming that brands have a social role to play, 66% of consumers over the age of 18 believe that brands should take a public stand on important social values, according to a report by RetailMeNot.

Can progress in this area be provoked by the current crisis? This isn’t about making masks or breast cancer fundraisers, it’s about brands becoming opinion leaders. A whole world ahead, the real activism of brands.

The road to building trust never ends. Timely contributions are valuable, but it’s time for brands to align on social issues, champion them at all levels, and maintain them consistently over time.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward

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