TRUTH SPREAD FURTHER
Richard Moss, Chief Executive
The poor performance of some of the stalwarts of the British high street has been well reported, but amongst the red figures are also some green shoots that may offer valuable lessons for brands trying to navigate a rapidly changing world.
In late 2014 Good Relations conducted a detailed study of 12,000 respondents into consumer attitudes to some of the UK’s largest retailers. It surfaced some real contradictions. How does Amazon continue its march to becoming the ultimate shopping utility, when its tax and employment practices have been questioned so publicly? How have Aldi & Lidl built such amazing momentum, despite offering such a limited range of unrecognisable brands? And, what is the secret behind the Waitrose success, growing against the discounter tide.
We believe the answer lies in the ‘truth’ of these brands, a truth that goes to the heart of each brand organisation and the heart of every customer and stakeholder they have.
For Amazon, the truth is delivery. Every on-line customer wants best value and efficient service. Amazon delivers and everything you know about the brand reinforces your belief in their passion to do this more effectively than anybody else.
For Aldi & Lidl, the truth is one of surprise. You may not have heard of some of the brands they sell, but you will have heard from many others about their amazing quality and prices. Everything they do has the aim of exceeding expectations … and starting a new conversation.
And for Waitrose the truth lies with its staff. Every retailer knows that customer service is the key to success and Waitrose, through its well communicated Partnership model, delivers this better than most.
But why is the consistent delivery of a truth so important?
Today, brands are faced by three great challenges:-
A lack of trust – in true shared interest
A lack of engagement – with increasingly distracted audiences
A lack of recommendation – in a world where ‘others’ are believed more than the brand
To answer these challenges, we believe brands need to find their resonating truth and then relentlessly communicate this to all of their stakeholders.
We have identified five steps that can act as a guide for any business.
1. Firstly a brand needs to find its core truth. One that goes to the heart of the business. It could be the brand’s heritage, its location, its people or its founding beliefs. It’s the truth behind the brand’s success to date and critical to its future.
2. Next it needs to turn this ‘truth’ into a cause. A ‘rallying cry’ that will go straight to the hearts of its stakeholders, will mobilise them to take action and importantly will become a focal point for future brand communications.
3. Then, they must embed themselves in their key communities of interest, putting themselves at the heart of the conversation, rather than a screaming spectator at the edge.
4. They must then bring their cause alive with a stream of engaging content. Content that informs and entertains but always has truth at its heart.
5. And finally, they need to become contagious. They need to activate their key influencers and place their news wherever the most influential conversations will happen.
Few of the brands in our study, truly embodied all of these steps. The ‘leaders’ however had clearly defined their truth and were working hard to build a shared ‘cause’.
Research shows that brands which are perceived as ‘authentic’ (definition ‘original and true’) are likely to be recommended more. In such a highly competitive age, surely no brand today can ignore the need to find its truth and share it further.