Trust. It arrives on foot and leaves on horseback. As 2017 begins, it looks as though there’s been a stampede. The Edelman Trust Barometer has been peering through the dust cloud to the sound of ever more distant galloping.
Trust in the media? Down from 36% to just 32%. Charities? Down from 50% to 32%. The UK Government? 36% down to 26%. And trust in UK business is down from 46% to 33%.
Edelman describes an “unprecedented crisis in trust” here in the UK. Ed Williams, its UK chief, warns that this could get “far worse” as 2017 goes on, with people increasingly feeling “let down by the system”.
Is this surprising?
Following global recession, years of austerity, post-Brexit confidence failing and the dizzying pace of technological change, it seems there is a growing sense that our society is no longer fair. Many people no longer buy what brands have to say.
Let’s face facts. Many simply shouldn’t.
Erosion of trust is spreading like a virus. So, what’s the antidote?
Edelman proposes that trust can be won back by allowing ordinary employees to tell their stories, listening and talking with people through social media, and by playing a more positive role in society.
In a world where brands are increasingly porous, with the lines between them and consumers becoming permeable, this proposition makes sense.
And one brand is pulling ahead. Lego.
Lego’s marketing strategy demonstrates how brands can reclaim trust. The brand doesn’t create marketing campaigns for marketing people. It reaches out and connects with the world at large. It recognises the need to let go of storytelling, handing its message over to more authentic voices.
Rebecca Snell, head of marketing at Lego, recently said: “Ten years ago, the brand told everything. Whereas now, particularly for Lego, some of the most powerful pieces of content have come from vloggers and bloggers.”
Lego sees technology as a crucial tool in closing the gap between brand and audience, and creates experiences using the likes of virtual and augmented reality. In 2016, Lego’s integrated marketing fully embraced social media with a YouTube channel boasting content to rival the TV networks and fully segmented Twitter campaigns to deliver the right content to the right people and engage them with the brand. Not to mention ‘Lego Ideas’ – an entirely user-generated campaign.
Data, technology and creativity coming together to close that gap and create a brand experience that feels honest and truthful.
And the last tick in the box – Lego plays a positive role in society.
The great Bill Bernbach famously said, “It’s not a principle until it costs you money.”
Lego put its money where its mouth is.
RepTrak found Lego to be the most reputable UK brand in 2016. The Lego Foundation has reached out to 400,000 children who otherwise would not be able to play.
As part of the “Stop Funding Hate” campaign, Lego went further than most other brands, severing advertising ties with the Daily Mail.
Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbæk told The Independent: “We spend a lot of time listening to what children have to say. And when parents and grandparents take the time to let us know how they feel, we always listen just as carefully. We are both humbled and honoured to see how much consumers all over the world express their care for our company and our brand. And we will continuously do our very best to live up to the trust and faith that people all around the world show us every day.”
The Lego experience is consistently brilliant. Having visited Lego in the US, I can say that here is a brand loved and protected by teams of people who just fundamentally get it.
Walking into a Lego office feels instantly innovative and playful. Watching children being handed enormous bags of Lego goodies because their parents were signing up for a community fun run brought corporate social responsibility directly into the local community in a way that those kids will never forget.
You can trust Lego because of its authenticity. And, because Lego is authentic, it can be porous. It can let people in.
In a rapidly changing and uncertain world, Lego has an untarnished track record dating back to 1932, providing a very simple product with no built-in obsolescence. That trust has arrived on foot over a long period of time. People the world over believe that they can rely on Lego to keep it simple. To create Brilliant Experiences. To do the right thing.
When it comes to Connecting Relevance in today’s cynical market place, that means everything.
Roj Whitelock is executive creative director at Jacob Bailey Group