Maintaining Trust In An Age Of Rage

Issue 4 2019

"Maintaining Trust In An Age Of Rage"

There is a crisis of trust globally and everyone is feeling the strain. Like it or not, all businesses and brands are – and will – be affected by it. The chain of trust brands have worked so hard to forge could be broken in a snap, unless we understand and accept the two forces at play underpinning the crisis, namely:

Expectations. Simply put, we (brands, leaders, companies, individuals) are all being held to much more exacting standards than every before. In particular, millennials (now making up 33% of the workforce and growing) look very seriously at the standards and behaviours of those they will work for, buy from or invest in.

Empowerment. The rise in activism, coupled with the instant and global power every person has to distribute information about poor conduct, has empowered the public more than ever in history. Humans have always behaved badly. Today, poor behaviour is going to be found out and distributed widely in an instant. Like a raging fire, once it’s been lit, it’s difficult to put out! The banking and finance industry has felt the full force of the trust decline following decades of behaviour perceived by customers as ‘questionable’, and through the horror stories that emerged during the Hayne Royal Commission into Misconduct in that industry. The ‘reputations’ of the banking and insurance sectors now rate only just above those of the tobacco industry.

Reputation is built on two key pillars. Perceptions about you have to be thriving in both in order to gain a worthy reputation.

Capability. You need to be perceived to be very good at what you do, delivering consistently great results.

Character. You need to be perceived to have good values, integrity and to genuinely be ‘doing the right thing.’

Think Harvey Weinstein. Even with world-class capabilities as a movie producer, his character is deeply flawed. His overall reputation is therefore the lowest of the low. A package that no one wants to be associated with.

At the other end of the scale, think Roger Federer. World-class capabilities as a tennis champion, and character traits that are nothing short of perfect. His overall reputation is therefore through the roof! A package you can literally bank on.

If you want to build trust, a brand, company or individual needs to work on delivering excellence in communicating a consistently powerful story. True trust is found at the intersection of your ability, benevolence and integrity, defined thus:

Ability. Delivering results, capable, expert, good at what we do.

Benevolence. Our intentions are good, we are givers, we put back in, we support others.

Integrity. We live our solid values, follow the rules, we do the right thing – always.

A great place to start in reviewing your ‘Trust Fitness’ is to check how much we actually put our customer at the centre of everything we do.

A genuinely customer-centric strategy, delivered with consistency over time, will deliver a high degree of trust – for a brand and for a company. Deloitte has developed a ‘Conditions of Trust’ model that describes the three steps required to genuinely have the customer at the centre of all you do.

1. Want to keep promises
A hard question that needs to be answered first up. Do we really, really, really want to put our customer first? Will we fight hard, every day, to ensure our actions keep the customer front and centre in all we do?

2. Making the right promises
Are our products aligned to customer needs? Are they clearly described? Value-for-money? Are they customised to changing circumstances for our customers?

3. Be able to deliver on promises
Do we have the processes, platforms, and people to deliver on our promises?

Remember – reputation is the gap between what you say you will do, and what you do.

How well is your brand or company positioned to survive the deep scrutiny that will inevitably come your way – and likely, very soon?

More importantly, what are you doing about building trust in this age of rage? An age where our customers not only expect but demand genuine trust in the companies they choose to engage with, and let the world know when their trust is broken.

A good starting point is to unpack the above model to see where your brand or company stands in light of the trust intersection. An even more accurate and honest appraisal could come from an external resource, (such as Bastion Brands) to help you identify your ‘Trust Fitness’ levels and implement a plan to build, establish or regain trust in the areas in which your brand is lacking.


We are always interested in hearing from great people dedicated to making a career in pharmaceutical communications. If you’re ready to make a positive impact with Bastion Brands, get in touch today.