— Mark Cripps, Chief Marketing Officer, The Economist
The first step towards credibility is legitimacy. Too many brands fall into the trap of entering spaces wherein they lack ownership. Consumers easily see through that and it can heavily tarnish the brand. Pepsi was accused of trivialising the Black Lives Matter movement after releasing a commercial where Kendall Jenner, positioned as a leader of a joyful protest, offered a can of Pepsi to a police officer as a sign of peace.[iii] The response was so strong, including public figures like Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., that Pepsi quickly pulled the ad and apologised.
Conversely, when brands properly evaluate their legitimacy when developing content, consumers trust them, resulting in strong business outcomes. For instance, although AccorHotels operates gastronomic gems that pile up Michelin stars, the brand’s Food and Beverage offerings suffered from a lack of notoriety. To get people to see their offerings in a new light, AccorHotels embraced its restaurants’ diversity by celebrating culinary creativity through an international competition where cuisine lovers revisited their favourite national dishes. Because the operation was perfectly aligned with what the brand actually delivers to customers - diverse cuisine and local presence - it was successful at demonstrating AccorHotels legitimacy, and drove a 29% increase in restaurant bookings.
For potential buyers to consider a brand to be a credible option, its message must be simple and coherent. A clear and cohesive brand voice must remain recognisable across the brand site, its ecommerce site, and even outside the brand’s ecosystem.
Consistency can be particularly difficult for brands with local resellers. To address this challenge, Chevrolet created in Colombia the Digital Dealer Program, a platform bringing together its dealers under a single, consistent personality. The platform not only connects all dealers’ website content, but also articulates a consistent ecommerce strategy. It provides all dealers with ready-to-use localised offers for their websites and media needs. The programme generated 391% average increase in leads for dealers, with 96% increased lead effectiveness.
Bringing the consumer closer through virtual channels can be difficult for brands, yet it remains critical. Proximity encompasses many facets, from signalling the environment is secure (e.g., through https protocol or data collection policies), to accessibility (e.g., easily discoverable customer support), to using understandable vocabulary aligned with customer needs. Content can create a sense of closeness for specific audiences, as demonstrated by the Spanish National Ballet when it developed ‘Bailando un Tesoro’, a video game created to foster an interest in the traditional dances among 8-12 year olds.[iv]
— Antonio Najarro, Director of the Spanish National Ballet
Creative content can also help brands compensate for the lack of physical footprint. In South Korea, as many dealerships lack space to display cars, most of them sell through simple brochures and prefer popular local car models instead of imported ones. To launch its new vehicle, Chevrolet used mixed reality technology so that sales assistants could present the car through a realistic 3D replica displayed on a tablet. As a result, the brand saliency among the car buyers went up by 30% and Chevrolet was able to double the reach of their dealership presence.
[ii]Sprout Social, From Risk to Responsibility: Social Media & the Evolution of Transparency, August 2018
[iii]The New York Times, Pepsi Pulls Ad Accused of Trivializing Black Lives Matter, April 2017
[iv]Espana Global, Spanish National Ballet: 40 years offering art, September 2018, Spanish National Ballet: 40 years offering art, September 2018