Navigating the winds of change
After years of stagnant corporate culture and consumer relations, change is coming thick and fast in all sectors.
Market research shows that customers today are more concerned with user experience than any product or service a company provides. And as business practices become more transparent, consumers want to align their ethics and values with their purchases. That means supporting the companies they perceive as understanding their needs and expectations.
Such is the depth of this shift in consumer sentiment that businesses with a broader purpose, or indeed, a strong ESG commitment, are frequently outperforming those that shy away from these issues.
But it doesn’t stop there.
For firms embracing the ESG agenda, be it diversity, climate, governance or any number of key issues, the rules of branding remain applicable. Actioning these objectives is, of course, important but equally so is effectively communicating a company’s purpose, outside of its business objectives.
Clients and employees alike must be brought on this journey and empowered to feel part of something positive. And this is where brand equity is truly derived from.
“What it all comes down to is trust”, said Edward Scotcher, CEO of Agility in Mind. “We’re building a new culture of interacting with different people in different ways, different methods, different mediums, and all of that comes back to trust”.
Building on trust
Trust may be the core tenet of building people-centric strategies, but this comes with honesty and realism, as regards to what each company can commit to and when.
This means that enterprises must consider which policies are truly within their grasp, lest they announce something only to find their business ill-equipped to support it.
Increasingly, corporates are being called out on any disparities between policy and practice, with the damage to brand perception lasting longer in the digital landscape. Greenwashing and gender-washing, for instance, are two of the more common accusations.
Firms must be mindful of ‘walking the talk’ and putting their name to policies they feel fully capable of following through on.
“In this purpose-driven environment, employees and customers want brands to have an opinion on something, and I think there’s a danger there of trying to have an opinion on too much, but not really having enough to back it up”, said Rosie Guest, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Apex.
Guest continued: “It goes back to trust, that integrity behind what you say and as soon as that gets unpicked, that becomes problematic from an engagement perspective.”
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