Working long-term with professional services, where brand success is dependent on maintaining a high level of trust – but particularly since Covid – I’ve been deep-diving into how we build trust, influence and confidence in business.
I’ve had some really interesting conversations with professional people about the challenges they find in building trust at work with their teams, or externally with stakeholders, in person and online. Trust has come into focus with Royal Commissions on various Australian industries, layered with accelerated technology and business challenges during the pandemic. The competition for markets, investment and employees have all increased, while we are scrambling to maintain business relationships and opportunities for ourselves during isolation or restricted travel. Meanwhile, a great many of us are questioning what really matters to us, and what we are prepared to spend time, energy and money on.
“Now brands will need to operate at the intersection of culture, purpose and society. Brands need to be for the people, and guided by the people. Why? Because brand trust ranks higher than brand love.”
– Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust, the new brand equity
The Edelman Trust Barometer’s original definition of trust describes it as a measure of perceived competence and ethics in institutions. If this is the obvious foundation in business, what else is needed to build trust and be influential? This is what I’ve been exploring with professional and business audiences around the APAC region, and more intimately with people over coffees or in discussion groups.
I’ve been talking for a while now about the need to treat Brand as intricately connected to Culture within organisations. If our personal brands are strongly tied to ‘how we do things’, it follows that our company brands are tied to ‘how we do things’ with our teams.
As the quote above suggests, ‘brand love’ is no longer enough – so you have a cool brand story… but can I trust you to look after me and the things I care about? This is the world we live in, now more than ever – we are focusing on what really matters to us. Our communication and demonstration of our authentic purpose and values, and our ability to connect with what our teams, clients and audiences truly care about, are the keys to building a business brand that returns value.
It’s not enough to do a ‘day on Purpose & Values’ with your team. Quality facilitations can generate meaningful discussions, but change happens when there is a strategy to encompass all aspects of Brand communication embedded within the company’s Culture, and engaging all teams. Instead of siloed departments, leadership and management that is disconnected from the rest of the staff, HR teams running ‘programs’ that aren’t ingrained in culture, sales departments trying to do their own thing and marketing teams that are largely ignored. An analysis and strategic planning process needs to bring all these efforts together in a connected web. This is what I term ‘Brand Culture’, and a clear and connected Brand Culture is what builds trust.
Brand Culture & Team Personal Branding Specialist
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