Brands: Who can we trust?

Posted by Lindsey Durrant on 7 December 2012 | 0 Comments

From the BBC and the Jimmy Savile scandal to Amazon and Starbucks' tax avoidance, corporate brands are rapidly learning that they must recognise public anger and act quickly to avoid repeating their mistakes.

With the coffee chain's morality called into question, Starbucks has now bowed to public pressure and conceded that it will look again at its 'tax approach' in the UK. Starbucks is not alone in fighting to maintain public trust.

Numerous companies are being lambasted for their tax avoidance, the BBC has been publicly criticised over its handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal and News International are now facing the fallout from the Leveson report.

When it comes to handling a brand-reputation crisis on the scale faced by these big brands, opinion is unanimous: it needs to be tackled head-on. Short-term damage is inevitable. Starbucks' brand consumer-satisfaction score, fell dramatically from mid-October, when it emerged that it had paid no corporation tax in the UK last year. In addition the BBC's trust ratings have fallen since the Savile scandal broke.

Do people forget about such cases over time, or is the long-term state of a brand in jeopardy? Whether the lack of public trust and reputation is sustained depends on how long the issue remains in the media spotlight and how the brand reacts.

Companies that stand the test of time weather crises best, who can imagine boycotting the BBC? But brands such as Starbucks, it would be easy to just pop to Costa instead wouldn’t it?

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