The Post-Truth Business – How to Rebuild Brand Authenticity in a Distrusting World by Sean Pillot de Chenecey, published by Kogan Page
At the Lang Cat we are a deeply cynical bunch.
More years than we care to remember working in financial services has not helped, and the recent proliferation of business self-help books offering nothing more than shameless self-promotion for the author has made things even worse.
As a result, we scoffed when those nice people at Financial Adviser asked us to review this book, and we prepared to give it a kicking. But do you know what? It is actually really good.
It explores how, in a world defined by mistrust and fake news, brands can be seen as trustworthy. This evolution of how brands are building, or want to build, a connection with consumers is the central theme of the book.
It is not about ‘finding your why’ or other similar cliches, and as one of the many referenced research points confirms, the majority of consumers would not care if the brands they use vanish. Folk simply want the brands they use to be trustworthy.
This has never been more important, with the rise of social media bringing huge issues with fake news, cyber bullying, trolling and hate speech, and the book spends a lot of time (rightly) championing the role of a free and independent press. And with consumers trusting financial services even less than the average journalist (and/or politician) there is plenty for the industry to ponder.
Without giving away the final chapter too much, the author suggests a “post-truth brand manifesto” built around five components:
1. Be authentic.
2. Be transparent.
3. Respect privacy.
4. Demonstrate empathy.
5. Be trustworthy.
For most financial advisers these traits are hard-baked into everything they do, so despite the massive changes going on around us in the way consumers obtain and disseminate information, there is not a huge shift in behaviour required.
However, I would still recommend this as a read for any financial adviser who is genuinely interested in understanding what ‘being trustworthy’ truly means these days for consumers, and the risks associated with getting this seemingly simple activitybadly wrong.
When you have trust, everything is simple. If you do not have trust, things get complicated.
Mike Barrett is consulting director of the Lang Cat