Brands fill our leadership vacuum

This week Edelman released their annual Global Trust Barometer. Our Planning Director Pete Grant responds to the findings

The Barometer confirms a reshaping of civil society, where a vacuum of trusted political leaders and media institutions is being filled by commercial and charity brands.

The government and the media are using culture wars to fracture and divide, which may win clicks and votes in the short term, but ultimately people want to live in a society with stability and order.

The public increasingly relies on business and charity to effectively solve our most pressing social issues like climate change and COVID19, creating order and meaning in their lives.

A key battleground is being fought over the quality of public information. The public feels government and media outlets can no longer be trusted to produce reliable information on which to make good decisions, progress our careers, and protect our families.

This is particularly keenly felt in the UK, which was found to have one of the greatest trust gaps based on income, with people on lower incomes having enormous levels of distrust for public institutions. This trust gap was closed when people on low incomes felt like they had reliable information on which to base their life decisions.

It’s no coincidence then that education and technology were two of the sectors with the highest levels of trust globally. When public institutions fail us, technology and education brands put power into our own hands to navigate the world, progress and better ourselves.

As the Da Vinci futurology institute predicts, “In 2030, the biggest company on the internet will be an education-based company you haven’t heard of yet”.

In the absence of trusted political leadership and in a volatile society, businesses and NGOs will increasingly collaborate and rise to the challenge of growing civil society.

Brands will be expected to do more than just make a profit; they will need to create order, help people make wise choices and solve our pressing social problems.

It is both a brilliant opportunity and a grave responsibility.