NEW YORK: Brands that can show a combination of trust and dynamism are more likely to win the loyalty of consumers according to a new study from Havas Worldwide, the agency network.

The company drew on the findings of an online survey of 10,219 people in 31 countries for the report – Building Brands that Matter: The Sweet Spot Between Trust and Dynamism – which explored the critical factors at play in brand success and consumer engagement and tracked influences such as transparency, innovation, authenticity, utility and sociability.

The study found that 60% of consumers generally and 83% of "prosumers", or those deemed to indicate the mainstream's future thinking, had become more aware of the companies behind the items they buy.

In particular, an authentic history was regarded as a valuable boost to a brand's reputation, while the most successful also embraced transparency and social media engagement.

Brand strength, said Sarita Bhatt, director of global strategy at Havas Worldwide, "is based on what people believe about where your company is headed and the value you will provide to society along the way".

A majority of respondents indicated a wish to partner with brands to drive positive social and environmental change. Fully 80% of prosumers and 62% of consumers said they felt good about buying from companies that had a clear social purpose.

Consumers understand that businesses have to make money, said David Jones, global CEO of Havas, but they want them to do that in the right way. "They now expect businesses to have a purpose beyond just profit," he noted.

Trustworthy brands were also seen as playing a local role, and in that regard actions were more significant than provenance, with important implications for international brands. As Bhatt explained to PR Week: "In India, to have McDonald's serving all-beef burgers is ridiculous, but when you put in chicken tandoori burgers, that's being locally relevant."

Nor should employees be neglected in the digital age as the study noted they could be a brand's most effective advocates or its most damaging detractors. Some 67% of prosumers and 53% of mainstream consumers thought that what a brand's employees said about a company online was more convincing than any advertisement or news article.

Data sourced from PR Newswire, PR Week; additional content by Warc staff