James Hutchinson’s wrote a piece in CityAM’s Forum on Monday called Chief executives earn trust with honest answers, in which it’s highlighted that EDF’s top man Vincent de Rivaz recently gave an interview and mentioned the word ‘trust’ 61 times. He pointed out that De Rivaz had not made his company any more trusted, potentially making it less trusted.
This story rings true on many levels….when speaking to Marketing, Communication and Brand Directors at UK Plc unsurprisingly all of them are trying to make their brand, product or service cut through the noise to differentiate from their competitors.
Some are much better than others when discussing their companies values – much in the same way that De Rivaz was trying to do – sometimes they get out a PowerPoint presentation, there is often a smashing graph with all the lines going up and they always start rolling out the company ‘values’. Unfortunately there are three words that make it onto a lot of Plc’s values – Trust, Honesty and Innovation.
Think about those three words for a minute…Just like De Rivaz I’d say over a third of the brand owners I speak to say their brand is trustworthy, “trust us with your money/insurance/health/electricity”, Joe Public expects you to be Trustworthy as a prerequisite and I certainly don’t trust anyone because they tell me they’re Trustworthy.
A company is no more honest if it says its honest, for example Enron in the 90’s was still telling us it was a company with integrity. Innovation is possibly the worst of these value’s for a CEO to spin out when trying to communicate the company message, I think over 50% of the brand owners I speak to claim to have innovative companies – they can’t all be innovating! Perversely the less you promote your innovation the more innovate you actually are, for example Apple – a very innovative company – doesn’t promote it’s innovation.
A recent example of this is, Ian Shepherd at Game Group, whose shares are priced at less than a penny, when quizzed about what he was doing to get Game out of its current predicament instead of saying we are listening to what customers want and we’re going to give it to them, he started attacking the game producers for not giving him credit facilities to buy the latest consoles, that is no way to engender you to Joe Public – especially when you need all the help you can find.
Forget about company ‘values’, don’t tell consumers what you want them to think (as they’re far to clever for you) – instead tell them what you’re actually doing and then let them make up their up own mind. This is the quickest way to build trust and make your company ‘likeable’ – you can then sit back safe in the knowledge that you’re going to watch your share price go through the roof.