Trust is a foundational element in any relationship. This has always been true, but today, the concept has taken on an even more profound importance. While many aspects of society struggle with issues of trust and credibility, at Olapic, we are primarily concerned with the erosion of brand-consumer relationships due to a growing lack of credibility.
Modern consumers have grown skeptical of brand messaging, and are largely rejecting advertising in favor of more honest, trustworthy sources of information. In an increasingly complex buyer’s journey, many customers are turning to one another for product inspiration and purchase validation. In fact, according to Olapic’s recent Global Consumer Report, 76% of respondents viewed content posted by other consumers on social networks as more honest than advertising.
What does this mean for brands?
In order to answer this question, Olapic partnered with The Future Laboratory, and our parent, Monotype, in a report entitled, “Beyond Authenticity: Winning Consumer Trust Through Co-Creation, Transparency, and Typography.” The report explores methods for brands to navigate this low-trust landscape, including through the use of co-creation strategies, ultra-transparent campaigns, and design cues.
Scarcity of Trust
The latest recession set our society down a path toward this dearth of trust, primarily between consumers and institutions they felt had let them down. As an example, according to a recent Media Research Center and YouGov poll, 69% of US voters do not believe the news media are honest and truthful. The last year has also represented the most significant drop ever in public trust of business, media, and NGOs, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2017. “Business is the last retaining wall for trust,” says Kathryn Beiser, global chair of Edelman’s Corporate Practice. “Its leaders must step up on the issues that matter for society.” If this is true, brands hold not only a fiscal mandate to repair relationships with consumers, but also a societal responsibility to lead the way for other public institutions.
Here are three ways that businesses can shift their focus to rebuild trust and credibility with their audiences:
Restore the Faith
“Generation Z” and “Millennials” are buzz words in almost any industry, but for good reason, as they represent an enormous future market for brands. They also happen to be demographics that most dislike traditional one-way marketing communications, meaning brands must take a different approach to gain their loyalty.
One powerful way brands can build better relationships and restore faith with these cohorts is to let them co-create their own experiences. A study by the Faculty of Behavioral Science of the University of Twente found consumers are more positive about a brand and more likely to promote it if they are allowed to co-create its products. “Ultimately, if you allow consumers to personalize their own experience, this empowers them to pick what they want, without imposing it on them,” says Olapic co-founder Pau Sabria.
Breed New Evangelicals
Involving consumers in the product and marketing processes does more than increase their propensity to buy, it increases the likelihood that they will become advocates and evangelical supporters of the brand. Digitally-native brands such as Uber and Tesla have been able to bake in real-time feedback from consumers to improve and augment their development and messaging. Traditional brands can take a page from this book to inspire word of mouth promotion, which believe it or not, is still the most powerful form of marketing. In fact, according to Dr. Jonah Berger, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, just 7% of all word of mouth marketing exists online.
Brands that want to breed new evangelicals must strip away their typical communication strategy and take a more informative and conversational tone with their consumers. This goes beyond a “fun” and “friendly” approach on social apps, instead, it requires a dedicated strategy to educate the consumer and build relationships based on trust, before even getting to a point of purchase.
Achieve Symbiotic Creativity
Co-creation campaigns help brands in two distinct ways:
- To obtain a wealth of high-quality content with lower cost and a shorter time to market
- To humanize the brands’ outreach, putting a face to products, and telling better, more impactful stories
According to Sabria, “Authenticity is becoming more and more about evolving a symbiotic relationship with consumers, with brands shedding their fears about not having full control of their messaging.” This isn’t a far-fetched concept, either, as according to global advertising agency Y&R, more than 50% of Fortune 500 brands have already made co-creation integral to their innovation strategies. Felix Morgan, Senior Strategist and Innovation Lead at design consultancy Livity, agrees. “The future is about establishing a relationship rather than staging a broadcast. A relationship – at least a good one – is a two-way conversation.”
In our experience, brands that deploy co-created content and campaigns are able to also gain invaluable insights that can be applied to owned, branded efforts as well.
To learn more, download the full report here.
In it, you’ll find a detailed case for building more authentic experiences, and a roadmap to achieve greater trust and loyalty with your audiences. The time is now to go beyond authenticity, and to co-create the future of your brand alongside your customers.