There have been several recent polls in 2016 stating that public opinion doesn’t trust the media anymore. The feeling from the population at large is that the media doesn’t go deep enough, it doesn’t ask more complex questions and it doesn’t put enough emphasis on four areas important to consumers: transparency, accuracy, timeliness and clarity.
With the explosion of media fragmentation in the past few years, especially with the rise of podcasts, social media and new forms of content that didn’t exist a mere five years ago, many are decrying lower standards for journalism. This means when opinion-pieces aren’t labeled as such and native advertising exists in the form of an op-ed, people start to look away from the institutions they have trusted in search of greater meaning.
Trust is our main barometer in life. If you don’t have it you won’t last very long in a world being measured more by quality of network and reputation than size of wallet or revenue per share.
Brands can learn a lot from this scenario. For one, brands don’t emphasize any of the above four areas as important in their world. They are essentially blind spots. Yet consumers value that information more and more. Starting with transparency, too many brands don’t talk about how their products are made or how they may exploit people or the environment in the process of making those products.
Second, many feel they can skirt being accurate with how they position their product and company. But in a world where information is abundant, how long will it take people to find out they are lying?
Thirdly, timeliness on innovation hurts many companies who would rather protect legacy business models than find the future. This is why I root for disruptive upstarts all the time in the business ecosystem. While their innovation may not be beneficial to people’s livelihood’s and displace workers, they are trying to provide solutions that big companies are simply trying to sweep under the rug and pretend don’t even exist. Being customer-centric sometimes means innovating at the expense of your business model.
Finally, brands are terrible with clarity of why they exist and what they represent in the larger world. Remember Simon Sinek’s famous quote when thinking about the lack of clarity of so many brands: “People don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it.”
My hope is that brands and the people who work at them don’t fall into the media trap that currently plagues that world. While the media may think it is immune from extinction, they should learn quickly from what affected the music industry in the late 1990s before they continue down a path of irrelevance. The best way for brands to navigate this new normal is to avoid the blind spots and the dangerous thinking that there is immunity from what plagued disrupted companies, and realize they could be next.
Learn more about how to keep your brand relevant in the 21st Century in my new book Disruptive Marketing.
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