Lisa Merriam: Americans don’t trust brands like they used to.
Various tracking studies show a decades-long decline in what Forbes magazine calls a “consumer trust crisis.”
The American Marketing Association New York caught up with Kylie Wright-Ford, the new CEO of the Reputation Institute to ask her what companies can do to earn and keep trust in their reputations
Kylie Wright-Ford: We’re in the business of measuring and managing reputation
and what we’ve seen over the last year is really profound.
That is a decline across the board in trust in companies in the U.S.
Brand is the promise you make, in its simplest terms, and reputation depends on whether you’ve kept that promise.
Now that we’re in this post-truth era, consumers, stakeholders, and employees are looking for signals that your company is doing the right thing.
So that is number one: Do the right thing.
We measure seven dimensions of reputation.
They include financial performance, governance, workplace, innovation, citizenship.
And so all of those things matter a lot. So do the right thing is the first thing.
The second thing is be really intentional about your communication.
It needs to be frequent, relevant, and authentic.
Communication is authentic when the whole experience with a brand is consistent.
So in this world of social media and as demographics change dramatically, and the infusion of technology makes our life easier to communicate, but also more than noisy.
We find that brands that have a consistent story relevance and frequency also tend to have the most authentic communication.
Spin is definitely not authentic communication.
There are two things that I have noticed when doing this work on how reputations are changing over time.
We’re in this really fascinating era where macro trends are having a bigger influence on reputation than in the past.
Just as the world has become more polarized on some macro themes, likewise we’re finding in our analysis that companies are getting polarized results.
For example, if you take a couple of companies you might find that equally as many people don’t like them as really like them.
That’s new for now and so we’re finding polarization, but also macro trends have a bigger influence.
So you know from experience working with leaders around the world we’re finding that people are really thinking differently about the true version of a brand.
Who they are at home and what they see in the press.
Lisa Merriam: Reputation Institute studies show that companies with strong reputations enjoy two and a half times the stock price performance as the market overall.
Now that is brilliance in marketing.