The connection between the Downing Street party scandal and brand trust

Boris Johnson

Boris is hitting the headlines again for yet another party scandal. With Prime Ministers Questions looming, he faces some of the biggest challenges of his tenure and trust and confidence in his ability is at an all-time low. The impact this is having on the public’s view on politics as a whole, is palpable.

According to a poll conducted by Gallup in 1944, 1 in 3 British people (35%) saw politicians as ‘out for themselves’, while by 2014 that number was 48%. Last year, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) replicated the Gallup poll – the results show that today 63% of people now believe their politicians are mainly in it for themselves. Most strikingly of all, only 5% (1 in 20) believe they are in it for their country’s best interests.

IPPR Graph

The IPPR warns that declining political trust is associated with rises in disengagement from the political system, populism, and polarisation of society – a high price to pay.

So, what does this have to do with brand? Well, the reaction/repercussions we are seeing from the public and within government can be very easily applied to the impact that distrust can have on any organisation.

According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer “people today grant their trust based on two distinct attributes: competence (delivering on promises) and ethical behaviour (doing the right thing and working to improve society).” Being in it for yourself would therefore be in complete contrast to this.

Business and government leaders have a difficult job in trying to balance the best interests of their organisation, themselves, the cause, and the public, but they are pivotal in creating a culture that values trust. Why? Because trust is ultimately about the relationship between people, not buildings or faceless organisations so as representatives, the relationship people have with any organisation is directly tied to the relationship with the leaders/representatives in the public eye. If their actions are not authentic, the public and workforce/supporters will know about it. Competency, dependability, and integrity must be at the heart of what you do and subsequently stitched into the fabric of the organisation – this needs to start at the top.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that of the four societal institutions that the study measures, (government, business, NGOs and media) business is the only one that is trusted.

Edelman Trust Barometer

According to Edelman “when the government is absent, people clearly expect business to step in and fill the void. The heightened expectations of business bring CEOs new demands to focus on societal engagement with the same rigor, thoughtfulness, and energy used to deliver on profits.

In fact, more than half of respondents (59%) believe that when the government does not fix societal problems, CEOs should step in. 63% also felt that CEOs should hold themselves accountable to public, and not just to the board of directors and shareholders.”

Of all the institutions, businesses have the greatest freedom to act on improving their dimensions of trust. But it’s not just about talking the talk, it’s also about walking the walk. Becoming a more trusted brand means fairer pay, better working conditions, ethical sourcing in the supply chain – the list goes on.

Brand trust is one of the most valuable intangible assets in business. Trusted brands enjoy multiple benefits, including: more loyalty and engagement; accelerating consumers along the marketing funnel; improved workforce retention; and building lasting, valuable customer relationships to name but a few. It takes time, effort and requires a great deal of persistence to build, it can also be lost in an instance and the damage can be devastating if not managed correctly. Taking the time to lay the foundations of trust within any organisation pays dividends both internally and externally.

It may seem like a lot of work but, ultimately, creating and nurturing a culture of trust benefits everyone – if the Government is failing to see this, it might want to look to some of the brands that are leading the way.


The Team have been in the business of creating brands and design experiences that drive positive change for 40 years. Specialising in employee engagement, brand strategy and brand activation, we are a blend of consultants, strategists, and designers who connect people to brands to drive business success.

Through brand campaigns, strategy and design, we work with you to create trust with the people that matter most.

Like to find out more about what we do, let’s talk!