To trust in brands, trust in blockchain

17 April, 2018

Maintaining brand integrity is harder than it used to be. In the past, brands were able to bolster their images with the reputations of their associates—as long as their friends were trustworthy, then they would be similarly regarded. But the last decade has seen a number of high-profile breaches of public trust: the financial industry ushered in the worst recession in 80 years, the Collins Dictionary Word of the Year for 2017 was aptly named “fake news,” and Facebook is in hot water after compromising the data of millions of users.

Brand integrity is suffering as a result. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, “The general population’s trust in all four key institutions—business, government, NGOs, and media—has declined broadly.” In order to win trust back, it says, institutions must make a proactive effort that “puts people—and the addressing of their fears—at the center of everything they do.”

Blockchain technologies are well equipped to rise to the occasion. Since information on a blockchain is public and immutable, consumers can hold brands accountable. We would know if they back out of a pledge or if their profit margins are appropriate. This transparency would discourage companies from breaking promises or ripping us off, and encourage practices that are consistent with a brand’s values.

Blockchain-based smart contracts can also improve brand integrity. Jeremy Epstein writes in Venture Beat, “Just as blockchain can serve as a trusted intermediary in transferring value from one person to another, it can do the same in transferring brand values into a corporate governance blockchain.” If a brand’s claim to fame is customer service, smart contracts can ensure that specific policies are encoded into its operations. A new hire would be unable to mistake the terms of a return policy, and a savvy opportunist would be unable to bend the rules at a customer’s expense—all services are mathematically ensured and cryptographically enforced, guaranteeing fair treatment to everyone.

A brand’s integrity is among its most valuable assets. With help from blockchain technology, companies can slow the erosion of trust that has been plaguing institutions across the globe.

 

Image via Wikimedia Commons.



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