Posted by Laura Williams
13th February, 2020

Insights edelman report is your brand ethical Insights edelman report is your brand ethical

Brand trust is more vital than ever before

The Edelman Trust Barometer, is a trust and credibility report that looks at how citizens in 28 markets — from Thailand to Russia and from U.K to Columbia — feel about government, media, business and NGOs. This year the 2020 report reveals that, despite a strong global economy, the majority of respondents do not believe they will be better off in five years’ time. 56% of them also believe that capitalism as it is today is doing more harm than good in the world.1

The report measures trust on two levels; competence (delivering on promises) and ethical behaviour (doing the right thing and working to improve society). This year the report found that no institution (government, media, business or NGO) was viewed as both competent and ethical.

But it’s not all doom gloom. While government and media were seen as neither, NGOs were seen as ethical and business was seen as competent. In fact, business took the lead as most trusted overall (58%).1

So how can brands gain and utilise complete trust, in both competence and ethics?

Take action

The Edelman report revealed that 73% of those surveyed believe a company should take action to improve its community.1 As the emergence of conscious consumers continues to grow, belief-led buyers expect brands do to more for the world by identifying with consumer beliefs and taking a stand for what is right. And with an increased trust in business and a decreased trust in government, now is the time for brands to step up.

“It used to be the case that you needed to be a government or a multinational-sized business to change the rules of the game, but today small businesses can completely disrupt entire industries…” said Mark-Drake Knight, co-founder of circular fashion brand Teemill, during a Brand Talks podcast with Feel-Good Brands™.

CEOs, speak up

The report also found that 92% of employees say it is important for their CEO to speak out on issues like income inequality, diversity, ethical use of tech, climate change and immigration and 74% believe CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it.1

“With 73% of employees saying they want the opportunity to change society, and nearly two-thirds of consumers identifying themselves as belief-driven buyers, CEOs understand that their mandate has changed”,2 said Richard Edelman, chief executive officer of Edelman.

Purpose-led profit

This month, Campaign magazine declared 2020 as the ‘age of conscious consumerism’3 because today, consumers believe brand success should be measured by more than just profit. Success should also be measured by what the brand doing to better the world; its purpose. “We need to rethink the entire premise of the industry, which is based on selling more and more stuff, and instead build businesses through the lens of ethical consumerism”.

This is ever-more present in wake of the Australian bushfires, where 63% of Australians consider themselves to be an ‘environmentalist at heart’.4 81% believe that companies and brands should be responsible for their impact on the environment5 and 44% say they only buy from companies whose values they agree with.6 The pressure is on and it’s echoed by an upsurge in micro-initiatives that allow people to donate to charity, or connect them with local, low-carbon products that help to integrate ethical habits into everyday routines.5

Tell your story

So you’re a purpose-led business, with a CEO who speaks up and takes action to better the world. But how effective can you be without a ‘brand’ or a compelling story to tell, share and believe in? While more businesses are incorporating new ethical plans — addressing environmental and social concerns and rewriting their brand strategy — many need to work harder to effectively communicate this with their employees and consumers. A brand story is something to believe in.

“People spend too much time focusing on the commercial pressures further down the funnel. In order to reach your goals, the simple truth is consistency and authenticity”,7 said Andy Brattle — Feel-Good Brands co-founder and director of Beyond — during a recent CIM conference. “Trust is a by-product of quality, authenticity and familiarity. For brands to earn trust, they must first find an honest, ownable way to articulate themselves — an effective brand story”.

Trust in a brighter future and a better world

Brands can no longer ignore public demands to speak up and take action to change the world for the better and success depends as much on purpose as it does on profit.


  • 1. Edelman, 2020 Eldelman Trust Barometer Global Report, January 2020.
  • 2. Minverva Analytics, Institutions lack competence and ethics together, January 2020.
  • 3. Campaign Magazine, Year ahead for cultural trends: This is the age of conscious consumerism, January 2020.
  • 4. World Wide Fund for Nature, Backyard Barometer Summary Report: Australian Attitudes to Nature, May 2018.
  • 5. Canvas8, How are Aussies becoming more ethical consumers?, January 2020.
  • 6. YouGov, A quarter of consumers have boycotted a brand, December 2017.
  • 7. Chartered Management’s Institute, Catalyst, Issue 5, November 2019.
  • Photo credit: Oleg Laptev @snowshade