New WE Research: Companies Must Show Impact On Urgent Issues

October 18, 2023

To Preserve Corporate Reputation, Companies Must 'Get Personal' When Responding to Global Challenges

WE Communications New Global Research Finds Brands Need to Demonstrate Their Impact On Urgent Issues Like Climate Change and Cost of Living in Ways That Are Tangible to Consumers

NEW YORK, LONDON, SINGAPORE – Oct. 18, 2023 – Today, WE Communications (WE) released its latest Brands in Motion global study, “It’s Personal: The New Rules of Corporate Reputation.” This year’s report finds that a company’s reputation is increasingly determined by its response to immediate, public concerns that have universal reach, such as cost of living and the climate crisis. The findings also validated that, in today’s environment, employee reputation is directly correlated with corporate reputation.

“In a world where the need for stability has never felt more personal, companies must go further to demonstrate progress and impact in areas people are feeling most acutely in their daily lives, like climate change and economic instability,” said Hannah Peters, EVP, Corporate Reputation & Brand Purpose at WE Communications. “Long-term commitments remain important, but brands must also meet growing expectations to see and feel near-term action.”

This shift has occurred alongside an increase in skepticism; fewer than half (44%) of brands are perceived to be delivering on their commitments, and half of survey respondents said brands that do take a stand on societal issues are just trying to sell more products and services.

Further, social media and crowd-sourced rating sites are fueling greater openness in the workplace — about work conditions, benefits and pay. Beyond business performance, companies now must be transparent about employee experience, with 92% of respondents believing that employer-employee relations are among the essential characteristics of a company to build and maintain a great reputation.

Notably, even as consumers are calling on companies to speak out more about issues such as cost of living (60%), employee pay and benefits (54%), the climate crisis (41%), and the responsible use of technology and artificial intelligence (38%), they expect brands to keep talking about and maintain a focus on social justice, DEI and gender equality.

“It’s a delicate balance. The old rules of media relations, crisis communications and employee engagement need to evolve to respond to today’s accelerating demands,” said Rebecca Wilson, Executive Vice President, International, at WE. “Brands that successfully pivot to embrace and commit to change will see long-lasting positive effects on their reputation and business success.”


Striking the right balance, conveying an authentic message and maintaining a strong corporate reputation require a new set of rules. In “It’s Personal: The New Rules of Corporate Reputation,” WE identifies four new guiding principles for building a strong corporate reputation:

  • Prioritize the personal: More than half of respondents (60%) said that brands are not talking enough about what they are doing to address inflation and cost of living. People are feeling the pressure, and they want companies to be part of the solution.
  • Increase transparency: Being transparent with data (76%), such as disclosure of pay transparency or sustainability targets, was ranked as the most authentic way for companies to talk positively about themselves, followed by testimonials or reviews (61%).
  • Employer reputation = corporate reputation: Consumers identified “respecting work-life balance” and “providing compensation that allows people to provide for themselves” among the top five corporate reputation factors.
  • Get real on artificial intelligence (AI): Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said that the responsible use of technology — including AI and customer data — will become a more crucial factor in reputation over the next two to three years.

“Companies must know how to reprioritize and focus if they want to remain relevant and trusted in an increasingly cynical world,” said Wilson. “The time has come for communications leaders to be guided by a new set of rules.”



Conducted by WE and YouGov, the WE Brands in Motion report is a worldwide study of how perceptions shift over time. Now in its seventh year, Brands in Motion has surveyed 100,000+ consumers and B2B decision-makers about their attitudes regarding:

  • Expectations for brand actions and investments
  • Forces affecting the market on a macro level
  • Expectations for purpose initiatives

“It’s Personal: The New Rules of Corporate Reputation” sampled nearly 15,000 respondents in seven markets across the globe.



WE is one of the largest independent communications and integrated marketing agencies in the world. We’re all about people — both our clients and employees — and we believe in the power of communications to move audiences to positive action. Female-founded, female-led, and fiercely independent, WE has spent more than three decades helping world-class brands tell technology-led transformation stories that shift perceptions and change behavior.

Our global reach includes offices in 21 cities, partner networks that expand our footprint and client capabilities, and a team of more than 1,500 media and content strategists, creatives and data scientists across our technology, health, and consumer sectors. Our work with global brands like Microsoft, Intel, McDonald’s, and Volvo has been recognized by Cannes Lions, PRovoke SABRE Awards and PRWeek Awards, just to name a few.

For more information, press only: Kara Kraft, WE, (503) 443-7143, [email protected]