Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trust Redux (Jarvis Cromwell)

In founding the Reputation Garage collaborative back in early 2007, we wrote of our goals to drive trust in a low-trust world. The premise was that Trust mattered and needed to be fixed before things really want awry. Little did we know! Below is that early post.


The world’s business community has reached, well, let’s just call it a low point: Practically nobody trusts big business. (In the U.S. the number who say they trust big companies and brands hovers around 13%)

So the intent behind this blog is as simple as it is ambitious: We're an experienced group of professionals who want to help change the dismally low worldview of business. We are pushing for a new era of business performance - where companies and their brands are trusted more than they are today. (Along the way, we also expect to see continuing seismic shifts in marketing practices as we know them.)

Our merry band of “trustmeisters" includes yours truly, a consultant and former big company CMO who is known for his thinking on this topic; a U.S. ad agency chairman who questions the efficacy of many traditional marketing programs and practices; a corporate social responsibility expert and U.K. native who has also served as co-head of the U.S. branding practice for a global communications firm; and a leading thinker at the intersection of marketing and technology whose day job happens to be at one of the world's leading consulting firms. We'll be adding more trustmeisters as we go along.

Are we out to change the world? No, but if trust matters, then a lot of organizations are not supported by strong footings. More importantly, a majority of customers and employees around the world are expressing unhappiness with the current state of affairs. That doesn't exactly spell brand power or, to use the catch phrase of the moment, employee engagement. Because traditional practices have failed to prevent or solve these problems, new ideas and actions are called for here.

So for the record, trust matters. Indeed, if you’ve attended any of the last several World Economic Forum meetings in Davos over the past few years, you know that there is significant hand-wringing taking place over this issue. When trust declines, the nature of virtually every exchange and transaction is altered. Brands, which are built on trust, lose value. Sales become harder to generate. Customers defect, as loyalty deteriorates. Employees disengage from their jobs and the company mission.

So where's the fix for organizations looking to improve upon this sorry state of affairs? Join us here in the Garage as we uncover, evaluate and share emerging new ideas and solutions for what may be the most important marketing issue for our times.

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