Given the Trust Barometer’s findings that the general public is (re)turning to the business sector to solve “big problems” it might not be surprising to discover that having the right focus matters for both a business and its leaders, for action impacts trust. 45 percent attribute a business’ contribution to the greater good as the reason that their trust in business has grown. Conversely, of those whose trust in business decreased, half cited a business’ failure to contribute to the greater good as the main driver.
I think there is a strong impetus for brands and organisations today to tap deeper into their brand purpose and corporate narrative – and communicate this through their leaders and employees. The Barometer’s findings reinforce this: The public is responding positively to CEOs trying to realize the dual mandate of profit and societal benefit, as CEO trust has risen substantially in the past five years to 48 percent.
At the same time, organisations and leaders need the help of their employees, whose trust levels (52 percent) are on the rise. Respondents are more likely to trust an employee compared to a CEO for information on treatment of employees (48 percent versus 19 percent) and information on business practices and crises (30 percent versus 27 percent).
A strong brand purpose and corporate narrative is also valuable for internal engagement and morale. When business—and more speciﬁcally when the CEO—is involved in societal issues, employee advocacy and engagement increases. When a CEO is engaged in addressing societal issues, an employee’s motivation to perform escalates by 22 points. Similarly, an employee’s willingness to stay working for the company climbs by 22 points, and inclination to recommend the company as an employer grows by 25 points.
According to Kathryn Beiser, global practice chair of Edelman’s Corporate practice, “Business can be a big part of the solution because it is apolitical, fast, and tracks its progress. Now is the time to lead from the front with the support of their employees and passionate customers. No longer can business leaders focus on short-term goals. The new model CEOs are taking action by addressing the issues of our time, and taking a personal interest in the success of society. Stakeholders expect business to have a solid and steady focus on financial returns, but also on actions around key issues such as education, healthcare and the environment.”
Given today’s increasingly fragmented media landscape, the rules of engagement have changed. Engagement that builds trust and reaches beyond the informed public must take into account the full universe of today’s content creators—not simply the traditional media.
A search engine’s ﬁndings are now the most trusted source of general news and information. Search engines are more trusted than traditional media by a measure of ﬁve percentage points—a gap that widens to eight points for Millennials. One’s “friends and family” are more trusted as content creators than journalists by more than 30 percentage points.
At the same time, building trust relies on a number of diﬀerent forms of engagement. In fact, while blogs, social media and traditional media interviews are all seen as fundamental to building trust in CEOs, communication via industry conferences is viewed with even more importance.
As mentioned previously, businesses need to also rally employees to become their brand advocates. Employees, whose trust levels (52 percent) are on the rise. Respondents are more likely to trust an employee compared to a CEO for information on treatment of employees (48 percent versus 19 percent) and information on business practices and crises (30 percent versus 27 percent).
I’ve highlighted this before, but today, I saw this featured again on my LinkedIn timeline in the format of a new infographic by Intel.
My favorite bit of Intel’s observation:
Today, the number of networked devices equals the world’s population. By 2015, the number of networked devices is expected to be double the world’s population. And by the time we reach 2015, it would take five years to view all the video content crossing IP networks each second.
Thinking about this and having grown up during the ascendancy of the internet, I continue to be marveled by how fundamentally the web and technology have revolutionized the way we live. Even as I follow the stories coming out of CES2014, one of the themes that have really called out to me has been “The Internet of Things” (IoT).
How then can marketers and communicators make the most of this? Well, I can think of a few:
- Data-driven insights – Today, there is so much data available to marketers along with the tools to access, understand and leverage this data into insights. Some of the conversation here lends itself to a larger discussion on Big Data, but the core assertion I’m making here is that marketing must be fueled by better insights – and sometimes, that comes more from slogging through data rather than pretty pictures.
- Dramatic disruption – With everything that happens in an internet minute, attention today is at a premium. We have more data and information – but we also have a lot more noise. To break through the clutter, one must truly be dramatic enough to warrant attention – in fact, I hearken back to my old hero, Seth Godin’s definition of “Remarkable” = Worth making a remark about. Is your brand, marketing proposition, story worth people making a remark about and be willing enough to share it with others? However, there is a flip side to this, which is my next point…
- Creative contextualization – Being dramatic is often misunderstood and has led to many a faux pas (which, today, one’s mistake is amplified many times over via social media). On the contrary, I do not subscribe to the maxim “any publicity is good publicity” (a lesson learned from having managed a few crises and issues in the past). What’s important thus is to ensure that your “dramatic disruption” is creatively contextualized to your audience – what they want, the way they’re thinking, what they may not know they need just yet… I’m a firm believe in audience-led marketing and believe that, given the data we have access to today, it would be extremely lazy not to figure out how to reach out to your audiences in a creatively contextual manner.
- Cultivated community – Finally, one of the best ways to consider how all this comes together is to consider how we might cultivate and embrace our community. The marketplace has and always will be about people – and people do gather into groups/tribes/communities. It’s our natural tendency. An astute marketer would be able to combine the data-driven insights to create and/or embrace an already established community and engage them with your brand, marketing proposition or story. It’s in this context that you can be dramatically disruptive in a way that is appreciated as creative and contextual. This has been made a lot easier on the internet, given the myriad social networks that we have and are a part of (*Cough* I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook*Cough*).
Here’s to the internet. 😉
Interbrand hast just released their Best Global Brands 2013 survey results and, after 13 years, there is a new king of the hill: Apple.
The study, which looks into the value of corporate brands, noted that Apple is the first company to push Coca-Cola aside – which had been the top most valuable brand every year since the study first began in 2000. Interbrand assessed Apple at $98.3 billion while second place winner, Google came in with a brand value of $93.3 billion, well ahead of Coca-Cola’s $79.2 billion value.
I think it’s really interesting to note that 5 out of the top 10 brands are technology-related brands, followed by beverages (1), business services (1), diversified (1), restaurants (1), automotive (1). I believe it’s truly indicative of the increasing recognition of technology in global business and consumer consciousness.
Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s Global Chief Executive Officer stated, “Every so often, a company changes our lives—not just with its products, but with its ethos. This is why, following Coca-Cola’s 13-year run at the top of Best Global Brands, Apple now ranks #1.”
He continued, “Tim Cook has assembled a solid leadership team and has kept Steve Jobs’ vision intact – a vision that has allowed Apple to deliver on its promise of innovation time and time again.”
Interbrand bases its assessment on a combination of the company’s financial performance, its role influencing consumer choices, and how well the brand lets a company charge premium prices and deliver profits.
Click here for the full report in PDF.
By way of @sparkbranding, this Personal Brand Pyramid is a helpful way to understand which level you are at when it comes to another’s perception of you and/or your personal brand. Starting at the lowest, people typically recognize you for what you can do (i.e. your skills), but – and how amazing would this be – the highest level of branding is when people recognize you for your values – the bedrock of your integrity, i.e. what you will never compromise on.