Brands seek to rebuild reputations

1 July 2013

LONDON: Barclays and Starbucks are among the major global companies currently seeking to detoxify their brands, following accusations of market rigging and tax avoidance respectively.

Barclays, the UK-based banking group, has been implicated in the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal, and is seeking to develop its social media strategy in a bid to win back consumers, reports Marketing Week.

David Wheldon, managing director of brand, reputation and citizen management at the bank, told the recent Marketing Week Live conference that he intended to "rebuild the brand from the inside out", adding this process could take "up to ten years".

His comment comes as TNS Global research has found that customers are looking for banks that reward loyalty, solve difficulties quickly and admit their mistakes.

The firm's study revealed that 76% of respondents want their bank to be trustworthy, 69% desire honesty and 53% prioritise a good reputation.

Wheldon echoed these findings, telling Marketing Week: "If we make mistakes we have to own them immediately, learn from them and make sure they don't happen again."

Starbucks, meanwhile, has received bad publicity about its lack of corporation tax payments. This affected what Ian Cranna, its UK vice president of marketing, described as the company's most important brand value: "Our commitment to be part of the neighbourhoods we operate in."

As a result, the organisation presented an open letter on the internet, as well as through print media and internally to employees, addressing the issue.

"We explained that the reason we hadn't paid too much corporation tax was that we hadn't been profitable. That was due to the fact we had invested heavily ahead of the curve," said Cranna.

Noting that this had not been enough to reassure customers, he added: "We made a commitment that we'd pay £20m in tax over the next two years. Last week we announced that we'd foregone certain deductions."

Cranna believes that Starbucks' response has been adequate to restore consumer trust. He told Marketing Week Live: "Our response was rapid and true to our values. We communicated openly and sincerely to our customers."

Data sourced from Marketing Week/TNS; additional content by Warc staff