Does a brand’s values matter as much as its products? Do consumers believe that brands can deal with social ills better than governments? And what do brands need to do to earn the right to a place in people’s conversations, and in their shopping baskets?

These are the questions we explored at the UK launch of the 2018 Earned Brand study.

At Blacks Club in Soho, we received fresh perspectives on the study from: Adam Morgan, Founder of eatbigfish; Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, Consumer Psychologist at Anglia Ruskin University; Carol Potter, President & CEO, EMEA & CIS; Jackie Cooper, Senior Advisor, Edelman; and Richard Edelman, CEO, Edelman.

The group agreed that we are seeing a shift in power. While brands have taken a stand for decades, it has always been on their terms. They have held the power. That’s no longer the case. Now, it is the consumer – and their power of vote by buying – who dictates the conversation.

Yet taking a stand can be risky. All agreed that a brand must be authentic. If a brand is to take a stand, they must be able to say why they are serious about taking a stand, what’s their mandate to take a stand, and why taking that stand ties to their core heritage. If a brand can’t answer those questions, then they risk doing more harm than good.

The full UK report explores how brands can earn, strengthen, and protect their relationships in the age of the belief-driven buyer.