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Uncertain times call for strong brands

Economic, technological and social change leads to uncertainty. Not only among consumers, but also among all stakeholder groups. As the Trusted Brand Study 2022 by Reader’s Digest proves, strong brands act as trust anchors in uncertain times. A brand that scores in the trust-building dimensions can better navigate through challenging times and make its company more successful.
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Companies today are exposed to countless challenges. In the last two years, for example, they have had to cope with a global pandemic, the drying up of raw material and commodity flows, and reinventing the way they work with customers and employees. Currently, Russia’s war against Ukraine is shaking the world and provoking supply shortages of gas and crude oil as well as grain. Perceived security in the economy and society is decreasing dramatically, leading to price increases and subsequently fuelling inflation.

Change is manifold and inevitable
By far not all changes are event-related or limited to predictable periods of time, but can drag on for a very long time. In addition, they do rarely unfold evenly and are often difficult to perceive in a tangible way. For example, the last cohorts of baby boomers are slowly retiring and representatives of Generation Y and Z are moving into decision-making roles. This means that the basic attitudes of both companies and consumers, which are strongly rooted in values, are shifting. With the generational change, new technologies and attitudes towards the environment are also gaining in importance. With the transformation from traditional business models and working techniques to digital solutions, information behaviour and organisational models are changing.

Brand trust is the key
Companies are also brands, which means that they too are under pressure from these changes and uncertainties. What is expected of companies in terms of crisis resistance must also be achieved by a corporate or product brand. The foundation for this is trust. According to the Trusted Brand Study 2022, which Reader’s Digest conducted worldwide, quality, value for money and meeting needs are the three most important performance dimensions for brand trust. Environmental protection, service and customer centricity, innovation and prestige follow at a considerable distance in fourth to seventh place.

Anchors of trust for better results
As the study impressively shows, customers do indeed see brands as trust anchors in turbulent, uncertain times. However, the prerequisite for this is that the brand can score credibly and in the long term in the trust-building performance dimensions. To achieve this, the brand must have a sharpened profile and communicate its character traits in a comprehensible and understandable way. If it manages to do this, it can serve as orientation for all important reference groups and provide security. In this way, it contributes a valuable part to the success of the company.

Example 1: Continuity in change
Digitalisation and virtualisation are keeping trade fair organisers busy all over the world, and the pandemic has further fuelled this. At the same time, a new generation of marketing professionals is gaining influence and is very open to new distribution channels. Those responsible for Swissbau at the MCH Group have taken these changes as an opportunity to reflect on the brand, which is well-known in the construction and real-estate sector. In close cooperation between the client and the agency, the brand was analysed and sharpened in the trust-building performance dimensions. Brand and communication thus benefit from clear, unambiguous contours.

Example 2: Consistency through origin
The Swiss origin is regarded as a promise of quality all over the world. This prompted Otto Hofstetter AG about 15 years ago to express this trust-building performance dimension more strongly in its brand. With continuous maintenance and development of branding and communication, the Swiss industrial company is now considered a benchmark in the industry and achieves higher sales prices compared to its competitors, which makes it possible to secure production in Switzerland.

Example 3: Strength through purpose
Changes in consumer preferences, the emergence of digitally-driven newcomers to the industry and changes in the legal framework prompted the Experience Medical Register EMR to take stock of its position. At the end of the process, the company’s purpose was revised and the brands aligned with it. The reorientation, which is made visible both internally and externally, is already showing initial success after just a few months.

Brand as a means to success
Every company, and thus every brand, is confronted with many and varied changes. Ignoring them would hardly be an effective strategy. It would be more advisable to use them as an opportunity to review the corporate brand and sharpen it in the performance factors that build trust. Yellow has the necessary years of experience and a clearly defined process to make their brand a “trusted brand” and thus contribute to the success of their company.

Do you want to know more about how to create a strong brand to support your business? Ask Hannes Mueller, our imagepartners Managing Director.