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Trust: The "glue" of your brand's life

If trust is the "lock and key", then how to generate trust? What is a trusted brand?
With all the financial crashes, changes and uncertainty that has filled our lives over the past couple of years; and even as confidence starts to make a positive turn, people are reluctant to take risks for fear of anything else going wrong. Instead they are choosing to deal with the people, businesses and brands that they can trust.

If trust is the "lock and key", then how to generate trust? What is a trusted brand?

In the Most Trusted Brands survey, a brand is defined as "most trusted" if it is supported with attributes like extraordinary awareness and familiarity, higher brand equity and brand value, unique proposition, and the list is endless.

This all sounds a little academic and doesn't really tell us how to achieve it. In our new social world it is probably more relevant to study trust in real human relationships for some tips...

"Trust is that deep sense you have that your partner has your best interest at heart."

"Trust is crucial to the wellbeing of your relationship."

Author Stephen R. Covey also emphasises that "trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships".

So trust really is the fundamental building block of a great relationship. If, as brands, we want to build strong bonds with our consumers where should we start?

It seems that there are five main elements to building trust in a relationship:

1. Be open and be truthful. Talk to each other about everything and have true conversations.

We all know that unless you're planning a surprise party for your spouse, you should never lie to them. Even small lies - such as saying you're working late when you're shooting pool with your friends - are a bad idea. You'll likely get caught in the lie, and suddenly your spouse will be wondering what else you're lying about and be suspicious about everything.

For a brand to be a trusted brand, they need to be open and truthful in all their conversations with their consumer. It is now more important than ever to be transparent. A small lie will cause a breakdown in trust, which leads to a breakdown in the relationship. Your brand needs to talk to their customer about everything - even the small things. When the customer feels valued and part of every decision in the conversation, the trust will be much stronger. It's not about competition anymore, it's about participation - consumers aren't passive bystanders anymore. Consumers connect with products and brands that are real, unpretentious and simple - with information they want.

2. Let your actions match your words (be reliable).

When your partner can see that what you do and say line up, the trust is easy to come by. Follow through on your promises big and small. Promised to bring home milk? Bring home the milk.

There is nothing more important for a brand than to deliver on every promise that they make. An obvious key to building customer trust is keeping promises. This is nothing new, it simply requires that a company or brand delivers on what it says it will. This can be quite challenging as a company gets larger and requires different divisions to timeously fulfill their part of the promise or when employees no longer have a sense of direct accountability. Once a promise is broken, it takes years to rebuild it and resonate with the consumer on that promise. Actions speak louder than words.

3. Know who you are and make sure your partner knows, too.

Don't be afraid of who you are in your relationship. Until you are comfortable inside your skin, trust is always going to slip through your fingers. When you behave differently everyday, your spouse will not trust you anymore.

For brands to be able to be part of a conversation and to gain trust, they must know who they are, what they do and why it matters. When a brand's identity and image are clear, simple and consistent, the trust will come as a consequence. For a brand to talk straight, it necessitates that they need to go to great lengths to be clear, simple and not misleading in all our communications. The moment a client feels confused - whether it was intended that or not - they become potentially suspicious of the brand's intentions.

4. Meet adversity in the relationship head-on and solve the problem, and compromise when facing a problem.

Letting things linger unresolved siphons away the trust because it puts a damper on the momentum of a relationship. By showing that you are willing to bend, your partner will also made adjustments.

The same with the trust in a brand - by showing that you will go the extra mile to be trusted, and by knowing exactly what it is you're doing, even just the vision, consumers will buy into this safe space quicker, and gain brand loyalty as a consequence.

5. Give the person a reason to trust you.

Share the exploits of your day. Talk about your plans for the future. Always be open and honest about what you are doing, and when you are doing it.

Brands can't just expect to be trusted. They must talk in the same language as their consumer (spouse). Digital is a major driver of change, and for brands to connect with the customer, they have to provide a reason to be connected with.  there is a continuous growing number of more sophisticated, more demanding and much more informed consumer who expects the best brands with the best products, experiences, campaigns and conversations.

We can now believe that trust is the foundation of every relationship. William Shakespeare also shows us that we can 'Love all, but only trust a few'. Consumers make their own choice of whom to trust. After all, if there is a reason for trust, there is a reason for life beyond it, the glue that keeps everything together.


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