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Build Consumer Trust with Strategic Brand Development


81% of consumers need to trust a brand before they buy from it. Let that sink in. That’s four out of five opportunities walking away if they simply don’t trust you – that means your differentiation, quality, pricing, service and so much not only need to hit the mark but also need to be communicated in a way that does so.

This is the world of brand, friends. It’s where your reputation trumps all. But good news: there is a path to success here and we like to call it strategic brand development. Two things to note, though. First, it is a forever commitment and second, it’s not easy.

Do you have trust issues with your brand?

We’ve established the trust criteria for consumers to purchase. But what about when they are already a customer? Reports cite that only 31% of consumers actually trust the brands they use. This matters greatly because it leaves a huge vulnerability for another brand to take your place and we stand by the fact that it is cheaper to keep customers than to attract new ones. So where are some areas you can look to see if you have trust issues?

Consistent messaging

It is easy to have messaging evolve over time and it is easy for it to get splintered and diluted over time. This can happen even if there are only a few people who are hands-on if careful attention is not paid. As messaging appears in highly visible places online, make sure what is being communicated with stakeholders in business conversations, customers in support calls, and your intended audience at tradeshows is also in line. Inconsistency can lose consumers before you even know their potential interest. Are you consistent more often than not? Give yourself a pat on the back! While this is an anecdotal measurement, it’s an important one as a leading indicator.

Online sentiment and net promoter scores (NPS)

To get more quantified in how things are going, evaluate your brands online sentiment and NPS. Both of these measurements do take a process to get going but they will give you a steady pulse in a measurable way on opinion, which is an indicator of trust. Additionally, while they both are measures of opinion and thus grouped here, they are different in many ways and one should not replace the other.

Conversion rates

Looking at conversion rates will hone in more on the lead generation and sales development aspect of trust. There was enough trust to potentially share an email address but is there enough trust for a phone call? A demo? What are the comments coming out of those conversations? This assessment can yield quantitative and qualitative insights that can be cross-referenced with the previous two types of activities suggested.

Customer attrition

Seeing customers go for preventable reasons makes us sad. It’s terrible for a brand and should not by any means be ignored or hidden from the team. These are opportunities to find out where the weak areas are in the brand and address them immediately. Not only with fixes but with proactive measures with other customers. No matter where in the customer journey attrition is happening, it indicates that there is a break in expectations and reality. It could be how the product works, how pricing compares to value, or even the amount of attention they wanted versus are receiving. It could be a communications and/or operational issue but both will break trust if not addressed.

A brand strategy that can make it through tough times

While trust isn’t built overnight, doing it right and maintaining it over the long term might help it from not being broken overnight. True story. We had a client that took their brand trust to heart for decades. The leadership knew what the company stood for and the employees were clear on how to operationalize it. Customers could feel it; exchanges were familial and NPS was incredibly high.

Then one day the inevitable came for a tech company and an incident disrupted service. The team immediately jumped on it but, in short, it was a multiple day disruption and a big deal to customers. Throughout the incident, leadership clearly and calmly communicated with customers, taking ownership of the situation in full.

Thanks not only to the professionalism and transparency in the moment but the years of investing in building the brand, customers literally reached out to say thank you and that trust wasn’t broken. Not a single customer left because of the incident. An absolutely priceless reward.

Two areas to research to support your brand development

It’s possible to appeal to the 81% of consumers that need to have trust before purchasing. It’s imperative to build the number of current customers that have trust above 31%. This can absolutely be done with a strategic brand strategy.

To get started today, take an inventory of the data points you have available to you. Are there processes you need to get in place to have better visibility on quantitative information? Secondly, survey your customer-facing teams to learn the themes they are hearing in conversations.

What do consumers and customers love about the brand?

What are they surprised by?

What aren’t they asking about?

And what bothers them?

A simple tally of recurring comments will give you a starting point for more research. Once these things are identified, you can revisit your marketing and branding fundamentals and see where updates are made. And, of course, work with your operations teams to ensure items are being addressed on their end(s) because they are a vital part of a healthy, trustworthy brand!