September 28, 2016

Is Your Brand Trustworthy? Here’s How People Decide


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Your brand encapsulates your business; it represents your identity, your mission, and how you want your customers to see you. Your end goals are getting your customers to purchase something from you, and hopefully earning recurring customer loyalty so those customers purchase from you in the future.

There are certain brand qualities that are necessary for this exchange to take place, but none is as important as trust; without that trust, you have virtually no hope of earning revenue.

So what is it, exactly, establishes brand trust? There’s an art and a science to this, but for the most part, brand trust can be boiled down to a number of derivative factors.

Brand Trust

History

History goes a long way for establishing initial brand trust. Imagine you’re in a new city and you have a choice of going to two restaurants; one has been around for 50 years and has a reputation in the city for being a choice destination, and the other just opened yesterday. For all you know, the new restaurant could be better than the old one, but you know for sure the old one has a credible background. If you want people to trust your brand, you need to offer a sense of history. If your brand is new, talk about your prior experience in the industry, or mention your previous company.

Subtlety

Modern consumers are painfully aware of advertising. They know when they’re being sold to, and they know when the messenger has a hidden agenda. In fact, because of this, people trust corporations less than they ever have before. They especially don’t trust corporations who bend over backward to broadcast a message or hard-sell a product or service. If you push too hard to sell your products and services, people will become distrustful, and you’ll end up doing more harm than good. Instead, adopt a more subtle route — let people know the advantages of using your products without hammering the point home, and offer some value without expecting something in return (such as a blog or resource center).

Relatability

Your brand has to relate to people if you want to earn their trust, but there are a few different ways to do this. For starters, you can show that you understand their common pain points by going with a sympathy angle — for example, you could start a message with something like “it’s hard to earn trust as a digital marketer. We know, and that’s why we …” You can also adopt a tone that reflects something your key demographics would “get.” For example, you could use a brand voice that’s both informal and casual to speak to an audience of young adults.

Authority

It’s also important that you speak with some degree of authority. One of the best ways to do this is to prove your authority by affiliation. For example, when talking about your opinions on a given topic, you can back those opinions up with statistics you found on third-party sources. You can also list your accreditations and affiliations prominently on your website or in your place of business. People often associate authority with brand linked to other known authorities — just think of all the athletic brands that use famous athletes to showcase their products in live environments.

Accountability

Offering a “free trial” or a “money back guarantee” online are both known to increase conversion rates, but it’s not these offers, specifically, that get the job done. Instead, they represent a degree of accountability, which brands need to exhibit if they want to gain user trust. It’s your job to prove that you’re going to deliver on what you’re promising, and how you do that is up to you. Guarantees, free shipping, trial offers, and price matching are just a handful of options here. It’s even better if you have demonstrable case studies or past examples of going above and beyond for a customer.

Social Proof

Related to, but distinct from accountability is the concept of social proof — demonstrating that there are other consumers out there who already know and trust your brand. People are putting more and more stock into social indications of a company’s merit — in fact, 88 percent of consumers claim to trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. They want to see that other people are currently using and enjoying your products and services, so it’s your job to prove this to be the case. Again, you have a large degree of flexibility here — you could potentially include reviews and testimonials on your product pages, or encourage people to engage with your brand on social media. Even including images of human faces on your landing pages can increase conversions — just don’t alienate your brand by neglecting this important trust component.

If your brand can exhibit all of these qualities, in one way or another, you’ll be able to establish trust with new customers—even if they’ve never heard of you before. Once a lead has been converted into a customer, your trustworthiness all depends on the quality of your service — if you can over-deliver on your promises and produce a memorable experience, there’s nothing that should stop that customer for coming back for more (and maybe spreading the word about your brand). Trustworthiness isn’t the only consideration for a brand, but it is the most important to your bottom line, so don’t neglect it.

Hand Pile Photo via Shutterstock

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Timothy Carter


Timothy Carter Timothy Carter is the Director of Business Development for the Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency, AudienceBloom. When Timothy isn't telling the world about the great work his company does, he's planning his next trip to Hawaii while drinking some Kona coffee.

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4 Reactions

  1. Jeff Charles

    Timothy,

    Great post!

    i think you covered some VERY important points when it comes to effective branding. I think the only thing I would add is having a sense of purpose that transcends your product or service.

    Nowadays, consumers want to be able to connect emotionally with a brand. Companies that articulate a purpose that goes beyond their product or service give consumers something to connect with.

    An example would be Dove soap. They sell soap and other hygeine products, but they also have created a movement that is designed to increase the self esteem of women worldwide.

    Dove isn’t the only company that sells soap, but they stand out because they stand for something greater than the products they sell. When consumers can connect with a brand’s greater purpose, they will be more likely to trust that brand.

  2. Hi Timothy,

    Almost you’ve covered all the essence factors which contribute to effective brand presence and how customer interact with your brand. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Social proof is essential nowadays. Sometimes, it is all that it takes to let someone decide that they are going to use your product or service. The problem is getting yourself off the ground and getting your initial social proof.

  4. I am wondering what the fine line is between subtlety and getting the word out there. Sometimes, it is a mistake to be too subtle while it also a mistake to be too out there. It can get a little confusing.

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