A person wearing gloves carefully arranges bricks on a brick wall, showcasing the importance of building trust in brand-customer relationships.

You may have heard the quote, “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair”, and while this quote is usually used in reference to personal relationships, the same sentiment can be applied to your brand. In today’s competitive and interconnected market, brand trust is an essential brand asset.

What is the meaning of brand trust?

Brand trust is the feeling of security your customers hold when they perceive your brand as reliable, functional and concerned about their welfare; this perception must occur across all touchpoints, not just the point of purchase. Brand trust involves a willingness for consumers to put themselves at risk, relying on the promise of value that the brand represents.

According to Gurveiz et al. (2003), brand trust is a psychological variable reflecting whether customers perceive your brand as acting with credibility, integrity and benevolence.

  1. Credibility — A brand is credible if its products or services meet the customer’s performance expectations.
  2. Integrity — Is your brand perceived as honest? Do customers think your brand delivers on its promises?
  3. Benevolence — Is your brand perceived as putting the customer’s needs before their own in the short term.

According to the International Institute of Human Development, customers trust your brand if they perceive it as competent and benevolent (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Brand trust components
Figure 1. Brand trust components

Competence-based drivers of brand trust include:

  • Functionality — The brand’s products and service options are functional, reliable and of good quality.
  • Innovation — The brand is innovative across its entire business, delivers consistent financial returns and is of a size that builds confidence.

Benevolence-based drivers of brand trust include:

  • Ethics — The brand has a set of ethical values; their communications are sincere and credible.
  • Empathy — The relationship between your brand and customers is empathetic and adds value to their lives.
  • Reputation — Your brand is perceived as good or has a strong and trusted heritage

A trustworthy brand consistently promises value to consumers through quality products, ethical advertising, sales and customer service and how the brand acts during a crisis — regardless of whether the crisis is brand-related or consumer-related.

Brand trust: 4 universal truths

  1. Consumers want to be respected and treated as “people”, not just customers
  2. People as a collective have unprecedented power; they can now amplify untrustworthy brand behaviour across the globe.
  3. Factors influencing trust have changed over time. The speed of building — and destroying — trust has changed.

Why is brand trust so important?

Building brand trust helps your customers feel secure, now and into the future. Customers need to know that your brand is honest and caring, that your products are of good quality, and that there will be a fair exchange when they purchase your product or service.

Customers as a collective have unprecedented power; they can now amplify untrustworthy brand behaviour across the globe. Consumers are more informed and interconnected than ever and must be part of brand trust building and advocacy.

Customers who trust your brand are more likely to:

  • Recommend your brand to others,
  • Use the product or service more frequently,
  • Pay more for the product,
  • Buy your products over your competitors.

Customers need to trust your brand before they can become loyal to your brand. Brand loyalty builds brand equity, an asset in a class of its own.

Certain market categories need higher brand trust than others to ensure success. These include product categories where:

  • Customers are highly involved, e.g. baby care products or healthcare products.
  • There is a high rate of scale and innovation, e.g. motor vehicles
  • There is a high level of competition, e.g. telecommunications
  • The customer has little personal experience with the brand, e.g. medical devices

Brand trust and your brand strategy

Brand trust doesn’t happen on its own and mechanisms that build brand trust will vary across markets, product categories and cultures. Creating brand trust propositions as part of your branding strategy helps you clearly define how to define brand trust for your target market, product offering and brand.

When planning brand trust propositions in your brand strategy, brands need to consider the following:

1.    Cultural influences on brand trust

Differences in cultural norms and values can influence how consumers build trust, and different methods to develop and maintain trust may apply across different cultures or markets.

2.    Economical impacts

A country’s economy will affect brand trust. For example, if people are concerned about the economy or income levels, brand trust becomes more important as customers need greater assurance.

3.    Over promotion

Over-promotion destroys brand trust. Customers begin to question the quality of the product and whether you’re taking shortcuts, such as using inferior ingredients.

4.    Trustmarks as a brand trust indicator

Consumers rely on Trustmarks to simplify their information search and reduce perceived risks. Considering relevant Trustmarks as part of your brand strategy, e.g. organic certifications, 100% Australian Made helps build brand trust.

5.    Defining your brand attitude

Consistent dedication to a brand attitude, e.g. ethical sourcing, fair trade, across all branding materials boosts brand strength and reputation, helping build brand trust.

6.    Creating a brand empathy plan

Brand trust is a consumer relationship asset. Brands that engage in an active, ongoing relationship with consumers demonstrate empathy and build brand trust.

7.    Clearly and authentically communicate your brand values.

Customers want to know what your brand values. Brand trust is higher if customers feel your brand values align with theirs. A strong branding strategy communicates brand values with authenticity and empathy.

How is brand trust measured?

After you’ve defined your brand trust goals and built them into your brand strategy, measuring and monitoring brand trust needs to become a regular part of your marketing activities. You can start by monitoring review sites such as Google My Business. Next, you could run customer satisfaction surveys, such as Survey Monkey. Finally, when engaging with your customers, you want to know:

  1. Do they trust your brand?
  2. Do customers see your brand to be a safe choice?
  3. Is your brand reliable?
  4. Does your brand deliver on its promises?
  5. Are customers confident your brand performs well?

Brand trust is more important than ever to consumers. Brands that understand their customers and actively build brand trust propositions into their strategy will develop long-term relationships with customers and build brand loyalty and advocacy.

Viabrand®is your experienced Brisbane marketing team and branding agency. Our marketing team are expert in all areas of branding and marketing. Book a complimentary, no-obligation 30-minute call to learn more: https://calendly.com/viabrand/30min