It’s no revelation that social issues have become an increasingly hot topic over the past months. Brands face a fundamental reordering of priorities during a global pandemic and societal outcry over systemic racism and injustice. Brands have been pushed to the forefront of societal change. It’s not enough for brands to issue a statement or make an emotional ad. Consumers expect brands to act and advocate on societal issues that affect their lives.

The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 proves that consumers are turning to companies to be advocates for social change.

Time to Act

With an overwhelming majority of consumers saying that solving problems matter most for brands at this time, brands also need to become visionary, more accessible, a positive force in our culture, and strive to keeping us safer.

According to the report:

  • 64% of U.S. respondents believe brands can be a powerful force for change, and that their wallet is their vote
  • 89% say they want brands to help people meet pandemic-related challenges, while a full 44% of these respondents say brands must do this to keep their trust
  • 64% say to keep their trust, brands must ensure that their organization is racially representative of the country a whole
  • 70% said trusting a brand today is more important to them than it was in the past. This is particularly true among the 18-34 age group.

Trust Defines Brands

A brand must first realize that trust is earned, not bought. Earned media, especially social channels, become the frontline where trust can be won or lost. The more trust, the more loyalty.

Want more engagement? Show more advocacy. Want to develop more influencers? Build a platform for authority and empathy around your brand.

Advertising’s effect has shifted in the past three years. Nearly 7 in 10 consumers use one or more advertising avoidance strategies including ad blocking technology, switching to streaming services, or findings ways to avoid ads.

A Trust Approach

Trust will unlock a deeper relationship with the brand and its consumers. Studies find that highly trusted brands reward their customers with forms of loyalty, increased engagement, and advocacy support including:

  • Loyalty: 75% of people say they are ready to buy from a trusted brand even if it is not the cheapest. If a trusted brand put out a new product, a consumer would be very interested in buying it and would check it out immediately.
  • Engagement: 60% of people with high brand trust say they’re very comfortable sharing personal information with the brand and will increase consideration to the brand’s communications.
  • Advocacy: 78% of people with high brand trust say they’ll likely share, repost, and recommend content about the brand to others and they will defend the brand against criticism.

Survival of a brand during a global crisis, tends to be synergistic with action and advocacy that leads to trust. Brand trust now lives at the intersection of where personal and societal issues converge. “What you can do for me” means as much as, “what you will do for society.”

Brand survival is about taking a stand to advocate change and inspiring people to unify together to enhance our society.