The VW scandal of the autumn seems to have blown over, leaving people to say that consumers have a short memory and that any good brand can rebound. But is this the real story?

A little reported phenomenon has apparently been taking place behind the scenes at VW. Its employees feel let down by the events and are questioning the VW working community. Employee trust is being eroded. Will this have a knock on effect on external brand trust?


Of course great brands are built by great people, and if the relationship between brands and their people break down, then in the long term those brands themselves will be under threat. As brand consultants we spend a lot of time inside a range of organisations, and often when we work with successful brands you can feel the passion in the air, a shared belief that the work that is being done is really worth doing.


A helpful parallel also made the news a few months back – the All Blacks rugby team. They unite their ‘brand’ behind the idea that ‘great people make great All Blacks’ – the logic being that if you work at being good, true, honest, upstanding people then success in other areas will follow. Witness the gracious act of Sunny Bill Williams giving away his medal to that lucky boy Charlie Lines after the final!


In the long term, only brands who are genuinely supported by organisational values that go deeper than the consumer facing ‘story’ will attract talent with shared beliefs.  And as cultural shifts in our society produce a hopeful new generation of young people for whom sustainable values will be more central, they will only want to work for brands they believe in. So organisations must genuinely champion a sustainable way of doing business, not because it is the right thing to do ‘for the brand ‘ in some abstract external or short term sense but purely because it is the right thing to do.