Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States on Friday.
Anyone that gave the 2016 presidential election even a cursory glance could tell you that trust and transparency played critical roles in both candidates’ campaigns. According to an August NBC poll, 16 percent of respondents considered Trump “honest and trustworthy” while only 11 percent said the same of Hillary Clinton. While neither candidate scored particularly high marks, many deemed Clinton’s perceived lack of trustworthiness her Achilles Heel.
Clinton has long struggled with her perceived trustworthiness for reasons best explored in a different forum, but the lesson here is that a brand’s – Clinton being the brand in this scenario – perceived trustworthiness can have a make or break impact on a buyer’s – or voter’s – decision and once that trust is lost, it is nearly impossible to regain.
Especially when you have issues with transparency on your hands, too…
Clinton, leaders in her campaign and the whole Democratic National Committee all learned a valuable lesson when thousands of their emails were made public and transparency was forced upon them. Although the emails hardly revealed anything groundbreaking (aside from John Podesta’s secret to the best risotto), they did confirm many of the doubts and speculations that had already cast an inescapable shadow over Clinton’s entire campaign. Significant effort had been put toward either denying or diminishing the accusations that clung to Clinton. These efforts were quickly viewed as further evidence of her alleged lack of trustworthiness as more substantiating emails appeared on WikiLeaks.
Admittedly, trust and transparency were only a fraction of what ultimately led to Clinton’s loss, especially since Trump’s perceived lack of trustworthiness did not prevent him from winning the most powerful position in the world. Then again, he only faced 18 months of scrutiny while Clinton had to overcome nearly 40 years of compounded implicit bias. Regardless, hopefully all those involved and all those that watched in horror – or delight – from the sidelines learned the incredible importance of trust and transparency in the digital age.
These concepts of building trust and communicating transparently apply to brands just as much as individuals. And like many democrats, once customers lose trust in a brand they often say farewell to that brand for good. Or, if a brand is lucky, customers may say farewell for a period of time and wait until the brand is able to prove themselves worthy of trust once more.
In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, it is imperative that brands understand how they are perceived to ensure brand loyalty, longevity and ultimately success. To assist brands in this effort, McGrath/Power has developed a survey that can be used by a wide variety of companies to determine if their customers view a brand as trustworthy. The survey can be found in our eBook, “Trust and Transparency: How Much Equity Does Your Brand Have?” Download your free copy here.
Now, as we enter 2017 and what will surely be an interesting year under this new administration, please never forget: Don’t put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the world to see, and consider any mic a hot mic.