Regaining trust is a long haul

Gary - 6 th July 2015

“Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it's broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother f*cker's reflection.”  Lady Gaga

I didn’t think I would ever quote Lady Gaga in a blog….or use the ‘f’ word (apologies for the direct quote but it loses its effect without it) but this one really hit the mark. Her point is pertinent to corporate Britain; once you have lost trust, it a long slow haul to regain it and you never really do.

Brand Vista first ran its national survey on corporate trust in May 2008, repeated it in 2010 and has just received the results of the 2015 version. Both the methodology and sample structure were identical each year and it was structured to be nationally representative. 400 people responded and the results show that Britain’s companies are clawing their way back following the mass erosion of trust in the aftermath of the financial collapse of 2008.

In 2008, 69% of respondents claimed that they ‘do not trust companies as much as they used to’ and only 6% disagreed. Over the past 7 years the situation has improved and now only 50% say that their trust levels have declined. On the face of it this looks like a healthy, albeit slow, improvement and given the general societal slip in trust of companies and institutions it could be argued that any improvement is a significant success. However, the ‘glass’ half empty’ view would be that all that has happened is that some of the anger has left the market as the 19% decline in agreement to the statement has simply moved to the ‘don’t know’ category. In fact, the same propositions of disagreement were registered in both years (6%).

People still remain sceptical about how much companies are trying to put them ‘first’ and centre in their operations and priorities. In 2008, 20% strongly agreed that companies do not put customers first’ and this has improved to just 12% in 2015. A good improvement but it still seems like a small return given all the investment in customer experience improvement over the last 7 years, especially when you consider that the level of strong disagreement has only improved by 3%.

Of course, these levels of trust are very general and there are some companies which, on an individual basis, perform much better than the average and, of course, there are many which perform much worse. Amongst our own clients we have some which have improved dramatically in the last 8 years and have reached world class levels which, given the snail like pace of  ‘trust’ recovery over the last 7 years is extremely laudable.

So, let’s return to Lady Gaga (why not?).  She says that trust can be mended but the cracks never go away. Our research suggests that this is just as true in the corporate world as it in hers, wherever that is.

For more information on Brand Vista’s May 2015 Trust survey get in touch with us


Gary is the chairman and one of the original founders of Brand Vista. With over 20 years of brand experience both on the client and agency side he loves finding out what customers and consumers are really thinking and turning this knowledge into compelling brand propositions that succeed in the real world.
Find out more about Gary