Friday, 5 August 2011

Restoring Confidence in Brands: What’s your Big Idea?

”Business (and brands ? ) is a necessary evil in society… only the worst sorts of people are involved”, Plato,  the ancient Greek philosopher used to say.
Corporate power, accumulated by the “Arrogant Capitalism” of the inequalities, is dramatically deteriorating, also as a result of the economic crisis. “Disaster Capitalism”(see Naomi Klein’s latest book) and the School of Chicago failed. Now  “Nice Capitalism” is wanted (see at Amazon Costas Kataras latest book here). Long before the crisis, a number of studies showed a growing lack of trust in business and their leaders,. For example, only ¼ of the public trust them. Further on, brand importance goes also steadily down. For example, brand loyalty today is only 9%, from 40% some years ago. The crisis also showed that the notion of “Powerless State” is a myth. Society is now pressing harder for a new “corporate social contract “ and the new issues for the businesses are endless, including: regulation, environment, unions, privacy, safety, off shoring, civil society, governments as owners, consumer activists, NGOs and others. How modern corporations and brands could respond to these strategic and organizational challenges, beyond simplistic CSR, “Green Wash” practices and the recently invented by brands concept of “social missions in the supermarket shelf? . And this, at a moment where “shareholder value is growing increasingly irrelevant as government and society take a larger role in shaping business and industry. This discussion is about sharing ideas. So I am very pleased to ask you what is your big idea on how to restore confidence in brands. Please join the conversation by providing your best idea by sending an email at:


  1. I copy here the comment from my LinkedIn friend :

    Costas - As Warren Bennis said:"Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work"

    Trust is the sister of truth:

    "Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted with large ones either" Albert Einstein

    Trust and truth can be easily lost amidst the 'Hype' my not-so-big-idea would be to:

    Replace the Hype with Honesty, Honour and 'Heart'.

    Any 'Brand' worthy of its Customers' loyalty needs to be there for them - truly sharing their experience - no pretence.

    The same guiding principles bestowed upon friends must apply - in good and not so good times - the former being the most critical.

    Proactive Appreciation - we all know that if we choose to neglect our friends when we're happy then it is much more difficult to approach them when we are not.

    A Brand is only as good as the people interacting with it - top down and bottom up - all sides - a breach of trust will erode that friendship-relationship.

    "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship" Thomas Aquinas

    I could go on but...

    Posted by Marlene Greenhalgh

  2. I copy here the comment from my LinkedIn friend:
    Costas, What you are refering to has been the result of brilliant tactical marketing and poor strategic branding.
    I see it as being very simple: brands need to stsrt delivering against their promises in order to restore confidence.

    Posted by Marc Joubert

  3. I copy here the comment from my LinkedIn friend:

    Hi Costas.

    Haven't read your book yet. Nor Naomi Klein's. Though the titles are indicative enough.

    I agree that it is time for Nice Capitalism.

    Or to borrow a truth from Marlene, "Transparent Capitalism".

    I do believe that as Social Media grows Corporate Captains will have less to hide behind.

    All for the good.

    For me the Big Idea is "Cloud Sourced Brand Building".

    Actually that's just another term for consumer co-created (and consumer audited) brands. We're still on a learning curve, on this one, though.

    So far consumers used to vote with their wallet. But by the time their voice reached the provider of the product or service, the "trust losing virus" could already have spread.

    Now, fortunately, it is possible to listen to the consumer much before the "wallet" data hits the corporate boardroom.

    The corporate world will take some time to adjust. Given that we were always suspicious of qualitative feedback.

    But the 'like' count of even isolated comments is an interesting metric to watch.

    Learning to "listen to the cloud" will take some time to adjust.

    Posted by Sumit Roy

  4. I copy here the comment from my LinkedIn friend:

    Research and strategic thinking is the OLD idea that should be the BIG idea again. In a rush for short term profits and quick turnarounds in a struggling economy, many CEO’s and CMO’s have lost sight of the strategic thinking and creative solutions that made them successful. Reactionary thinking has taken over in an effort to turn things around quickly.

    To Marc’s point, delivering on your brand promise at EVERY decision point is critical for long term brand success. Staying true to who you are and not changing builds brand confidence.

    Until CEO’s and CMO’s are rewarded for their long term thinking, I don’t think this will change.

    Posted by Michael Deiner