Trust is the only capital of brands. Does Ariel get the stains out? Will Diesel jeans make me sexy? Is a ride in a BMW more pleasurable than in a VW? Brands say ‘believe me’ all day, and their bottomline directly correlates with how many consumers do. And if transparency is the new objectivity, the rhetorics of trust need a new toolset.
How do brands make claims about their benefits today? Objectivity, or the pretence of it, is all over the place. Test results, demos, testimonials – all of these formats are adopted from the science lab or scientific ways of arguing and proving points. Moreover, advertising briefs and production are soaked with attributes of objectivity: from the cult of ‘authenticity’ and the shaky ‘documentary’ camera to the rules of attire for credible testifiers. If objectivity is replaced by transparency, this whole game changes.
Transparency, many will say, is a good thing for the consumer. But let’s not fool ourselves. Along with the new rules of cognition and credibility, a new rhetoric of transparency will evolve. If disclosure is a new must – and every brand and candidate has to offer access in Facebook, MySpace and Twitter – but everybody with a human or human made biography has something to hide, then we’ll probably see new levels of sophistication in identity fabrication.
I herewith open the room for discussion and speculation and pass the ball to readers now.