By Mark McGinn, Director, Brand and Social Purpose at Edelman.
“There are two kinds of people in this world; talkers and doers. Most people are just talkers, all they do is talk. But at the end of the day, it’s the doers that change this world.” This was the advice from my first boss in my first job.
Despite all his talk, it seems he may have been right.
For some time, our Edelman Trust data has shown that people’s expectations of brands have changed.
They expect brands to have and to share a point of view on the issues that matter to them and society. They expect brands to respond to their demands and step up, with 55% of people stating that they can mobilise brands more easily than Government to take action to address social problems. This call to action was full of hope too with the same percentage, 55%, believing that brands could do more to solve societal ills than governments.
They want brands to take action and deliver change.
But recently they’ve been disappointed. Hopeful expectations have been replaced with accusations of trustwashing. Our most recent study showed that now only 3 in 10 people feel that brands have excelled in solving big problems.
It seems we have too many talkers and not enough doers.
This needs to change as marketing is being redefined. The central role that brands are being invited to play in our lives and our societies means that the expectations of us, communicators, is now to drive action before we communicate the message.
Our goal should be to move beyond brand engagement toward brand advocacy by acting first, then communicating, to earn people’s trust.
Last month, we helped IKEA launch their #BuyBackFriday campaign with the ambition to make climate change the biggest deal on Black Friday by giving thousands of pieces of furniture a second life.
The campaign followed many months of action by IKEA’s commercial, logistics, store, financial, partnership and communication teams to scale their buy back proposition that enables people to take steps towards circularity and sustainable consumption. They ensured that customers in 27 countries worldwide could sell their used IKEA furniture back to IKEA, who will then sell the furniture on in their stores or donate to charities.
The campaign resonated among their audience and in culture, reaching over 2bn people in 37 markets, and achieving 96% neutral to positive sentiment. By putting action first, we did more than grow awareness of IKEA’s efforts to tackle unsustainable consumption. We created brand advocates who wanted to take action alongside the brand.
So, perhaps my old boss was wrong. Perhaps there are actually three types of people in the world; the talkers, the doers and those that do, then talk. I know which one I’d want in my communications team.