When it comes to building a reputation and maintaining trust, authenticity is a company’s greatest asset. It’s all very well to talk the talk, but as consumers get ever more engaged with the companies behind the brands and as their choices become ever more informed, it’s not enough to simply talk a good game.
This talk must be reflected in behaviour. There are very clear repercussions for businesses that fall foul and are discovered by consumers to be less than they claim. This disconnect between the glittering promise and reality of experience was coined by the communication consultancy FleishmanHillard in 2012 as the Authenticity Gap – the greater the gap, the bigger the problem. It’s a growing focus for consumers of all ages, but also increasingly for investors because any collision between brand and reputation hits the bottom line, handicapping success and growth.
FleishmanHillard’s latest Authenticity Gap report revealed climate change is now among the top three issues customers expect businesses to tackle, climbing up the league table from 17th position in last year’s report. Those surveyed felt businesses aren’t doing enough to help the environment, with 84% believing the steps being taken by businesses don’t go far enough.
Paul Afshar, a partner at FleishmanHillard Fishburn, said:
“The message is clear: less talk and more walk. People won’t give you credit for PR-ing a 30% carbon emissions by 2030, because they see it as table stakes. But they’ll sit up and pay attention when you’re investing in sustainable behaviour change for your consumers and employees.”