On the train ‘oop north’ recently, there was, shock horror, AN UNFORESEEABLE EVENT. Was it a storm? A power cut? Some sort of mass protest or surprise celebrity appearance?

No, it was merely a faulty oven on the train. Bear with me, we’ll get there.

As passengers settled in for the journey ahead, the slightly harried and haughty train guard announced that due to AUE (as I shall now abbreviate it), there would be NO food service in the First Class carriages for the duration of the trip.

Now, as I tucked into my M&S meal deal, this had little impact on the status of my travel, but it did get me thinking. The way in which brands and companies choose to deal with ‘the unforeseeable’ can have a serious effect on how much their customers believe and trust them later on. Indeed, 58% of consumers say they don’t trust a brand until they’ve seen real life proof that it has kept its promises. With lifetime customer value the holy grail for most businesses, its not something to be ignored.

Recalling other incidents where AUE has occurred, the scenarios in which staff have been truthful, transparent and even often mildly humorous have been those least negatively recalled. This smacks of a bigger issue at play, and that’s one of treating people like people, not inferiors.

Our recent proprietary study, “Brand Jargon: Is there a language barrier?” in partnership with Reach, looked to unpick the various terms of brand gobbledygook marketers use, and identify better ways to communicate with a mass mainstream audience.

Whilst as a media agency we don’t often get to influence the message, we are very much responsible for the campaign platforms we write, the KPIs we set and the evaluation we undertake. These are all areas in which we should be mindful of our Ps and Qs. Or more appropriately, the ways in which we think consumers perceive and feel about our ads, brands, products and services.

Steve Jobs famously proclaimed, “a brand is simply trust”. That still rings true. But when we talk about trust, really, we’re talking about honesty. About transparency. About humanity.

After all, what sounds more human: a faulty oven, or AN UNFORESEEABLE EVENT?

I’ll let you decide.


Source: eConsultancy, 5th April 2018