Sunday, 3 February 2013

Would you rather be trusted or famous?

Victoria Beckham once said that she wanted to be as famous as Persil, an objective that she has probably more than achieved. For the former Spice Girl, fame was an end in itself, and that's fair enough. Who's to say whether it's brought happiness or any other more lasting and possibly valuable benefits.

There's evidence that, for brands, the fame route may well be easier to achieve and pay off more profitably, in the short-term at least. The IPA 2008 study "Marketing in the era of accountability" shows that brands who use "fame" as a communication objective rather than image, awareness or trust are more likely to see success where it matters - at the business end.

And "fame" may well prove a more tempting proposition for marketeers, given the tendency to move on to the next brand after a year or two. Surely it's better on your cv to show how you made Bloggo famous, the brand everyone's twittering about, rather than attempting to build something as nebulous as trust, which is surely just a synonym for the rather dull values of reliability and dependability?

Trust is a tricky objective. It's hard to pin down, it's a long-term thing and, importantly, it has to be done through-and-through, not just via communication. Every time any of your stakeholders encounter your brand or company, there is an opportunity to build or lose trust. Most companies simply aren't structured to deliver that as yet.

But just because it's tricky doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted. For all manner of organisations - not just brands - trust is taking on increasing importance as the 21st century progresses. Unless people trust you and your organisation, they will not support it.

Any brand can become famous through excellent communication. But trust has to be earned.

I do wonder if any up-and-coming soap powder brand has an objective that they'd "like to be as famous as Victoria Beckham."

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