Trust. What does it mean? It’s defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. Seemingly straightforward. We all know trust is an important foundation for any relationship, but in reality its role can be quite perplexing, especially in business.
Traditionally, the corporate mentality is such that you can’t trust everyone and important business information needs to be shrouded in secrecy. It is perhaps, in part, this mentality that has led to a great mistrust of big corporations in recent times. According to the 2013 edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in business is a lowly 58%. Who do we trust nowadays? Banks? Politicians? Energy companies? Negative press about all of these has become commonplace. We can’t even trust the food we buy in the supermarket anymore.
The concept of ‘brand trust’ may have been around for many years, but with this global shift in who and what we trust, it has arguably never had more significance. Building brand trustNot only is it now harder to earn customers’ trust, it is more important than ever before. Customers are increasingly reluctant to even engage – let alone spend – with companies they distrust.
So how do you build brand trust? Transparency is the key word. Rather than hiding behind company policy and generic statements and press releases, brands need to be willing to communicate openly – those that don’t, appear to have something to hide. The modern media landscape provides more touch points between brands and customers, where trust can be won or lost. Businesses need to effectively use all of these to create real brand trust.
Content is also crucial. You need a constant focus on your customers – what do they need and want? Make a relevant brand promise, deliver it, and then tell your customers about it.
Here’s a few tips on how to build brand trust over the different channels:
Improve your search engine performance
Gaining the trust of Google ‘bots’ and consumers are more closely aligned than you may think. Customers have a greater trust for those businesses that come top in the organic search engine rankings. Those brands which apply good SEO practice, with lots of links to their website from credible and independent sources are favoured not only by Google, but customers too. Plus, regular company updates provide not only the dynamic content Google is looking for, but the creation of a relevant brand image and reassurance the company is both accessible and responsive.
Use social media effectively
Of course negative comments can pose a risk to brand trust; and where before consumers were only likely to affect their close circle of family and friends, now social media provides a platform to share negative experiences more rapidly to a wider audience. But this will occur regardless of whether or not you have a brand presence on social media. If you do, you at least have the opportunity to react and respond. In fact, it is possible to transform negative comments in to a positive: If as a consumer you go to a Facebook page and see complaints that have been responded to and resolved quickly and effectively, you can feel safe in the knowledge if you have a problem with that company’s product or service, it will be dealt with efficiently. The same cannot be said of those where negative comments are left unanswered – hence the importance of giving the responsibility of social media activity to the appropriate individual/s.
Some negative comments can even strengthen the value of positive remarks. Many consumers are sceptical of review sites or social media accounts where the only feedback they see is positive. People understand no product or service is perfect – there is always the chance things can go wrong, even if it is beyond the company’s control. Businesses that are honest and human have far more appeal – that includes admitting when they’ve got things wrong.
Continue to use traditional PR
Whilst we no longer live in a world where brand communication is solely outbound, the value of traditional PR activity still stands strong. The audience may be wider now, encompassing online influencers as well as editors and journalists, but earned and owned media continue to enjoy much higher levels of consumer confidence than paid media, i.e. advertising.
Appearing on a plethora of platforms, both on and offline, not only allows you to reach a wider audience and makes your brand more memorable, it also provides the opportunity to demonstrate consistency – a fundamental attribute in building trust. The power of independent published comment – which naturally holds far greater sway with consumers than outbound marketing – that reinforces your brand message, cannot be underestimated.
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