Is Trust Broken?

Attention, influence and trust are much harder to come by. We sift though a deluge of bleeding heart stories as businesses and brands engineer a land-grab for trust and authenticity. So, does it work?

I listened to a local entrepreneur’s presentation about the story of his success earlier this week. It was great. It was a simple inspirational story of endeavour and perseverance. Good times and bad.

He was a likeable presenter with passion for his craft. And he genuinely hoped his words would inspire others to give it their best shot too.

When I told another delegate how much I enjoyed it he said:

“Yeah, it was OK. I’ve been to three of these kind of things this week. Everyone has a hard luck story – though. It’s just the same as everyone else.”

Deciphering the authentic from the tactic has never been more difficult.

Sometimes it feels like it’s easier to assume everything is just a tactic.

And I think that’s at the heart of our mistrust of most things we read, listen to or see.

Attrition Point

My fellow delegate was plainly at attrition point. He’d had enough of the hard luck story cliches.

  • The X Factor candidate “doing it for me Nan.”
  • The C-list celebrity publicly battling against inner demons or medical conditions.
  • The entrepreneur battling against a barrage of rejections.

They all follow a simple formula.

Success + Struggle = Story

The fight against adversity. The battle against all odds. Victory despite it all. The media love it. (NB Although, they love personal disaster more!) And so do we.

Like moths around a flame!

It’s a simple human way to differentiate a brand and its content from the tidal wave of desperate ‘please like us and buy something before some deadline’ marketing monotony.

So, why do we trust the stories less and less?

One word: intent.

We trust it less when …

  • … we know that hard luck stories boost X Factor viewing figures and advertising revenues.
  • … we know that the C-list celebrity earns media attention and boosts their personal brand profile to command higher appearance fees.
  • … we know that the entrepreneur wants to sell you a book about his life story.

Authentic stories are shared despite, and irrespective of, any personal benefit. Not because of them.

Ultimately, it feels like we’re being played.

And if the story feels like a tactic, we teach ourselves to tune it out. To the point that, even authentic stories get caught in the fall out.

What do you believe?

And why do you believe it?



Richard Glynn will help you stand out, build influence and become easier to buy from.
Click here to find out more.
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