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“That was a disaster” – Gordon Brown reveals how brands cannot exist without emotional trust

April 29, 2010
Box art from a 1970s model kit of a Whitley Bomber

Never mind the content, just look at the image. Companies need more than packaging to create loyalty.


Yesterday’s shocking events in Rochdale reveal to marketers how important it is to substantiate message with delivery. Gordon Brown, UK Prime Ministerial hopeful and current incumbent, was overheard describing as a bigot a woman, Gillian Duffy, he had just praised. Instantly, trust is broken. 

The brand illusion is shattered. The building of a brand on spin alone is highlighted as vanity. Position, it seems,  is more important than truth. 

For products, politicians, service companies, it is not sufficient to build brands through marketing. A brand, credibility, trust, is developed through brand touchpoints. The marketing is not about creating an image it is about telling a consistent story which is delivered through the product or service, creating that nirvana of “customer delight”. 

Strong brands have emotional assets. They have powerful customer delivery. They have recognisable traits which never waver. Politicians, particularly in this election, are keen to hide the truth of what is to come and rely instead on spin alone; here lies the route of failure for any brand – a reliance on image alone to create substance. 

Older people will well remember the advertising techniques of the fifties and sixties when images of cars were shown which grossly distorted their size and implied luxury limousine status on the most humble of family saloons. Or the Airfix/Frog/Revell kits which used to be contained in enormous boxes with beautiful art but which, when opened, were a fraction of the size of the box. 

This can no longer happen. Customers have become more sophisticated. With the growth of 360 degree rounded marketing through social media, brands have to deliver more than ever before. Trust  in brands is now a key part of marketing strategy; those companies who ignore the sophisticated bonds now delivered through brands will inevitably fail. 

The shocking events in Rochdale highlight a brand complacency of the highest order – forgetting the hardship, the loyalty and the fanaticism of your core customers. The chasm between “spin” and the end user highlights just what happens when a company loses touch with its customer base. 

Continue to delight your customers and you can build on their loyalty to attract new customers in new markets. Hold your existing customers – your trust agents – in contempt and you are on the road to ruin.

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