Strategies for Building Consumer Trust in Your Brand
Consumer trust is the confidence customers have in a company, brand, or product and is built and lost on a variety of factors ranging from integrity to popularity. This confidence is often built around different ideologies. Ideology has been present in consumers since the advent of capitalism, but really took off at the turn of the 20th Century when consumer protection laws and regulations gained traction.
Today we see this in a variety of forms, from packaging with biodegradable or BPA Free packaging, to corporate social media accounts adding #BlackLivesMatter to some branding material or adopting rainbow colors in their logo for Pride Month. There are many challenges in navigating consumer ideology as it relates to your branding and marketing, and missteps can cause more than a few headaches.
Most importantly, consumer trust plays an important role in helping you navigate these choices.
Why Is Consumer Trust Important?
When it comes to consumer confidence, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the American consumer trusts U.S. based companies more than the government. The bad news is that only 48% of people expressed trust in U.S. based companies. The question is, does it actually matter?
In short, yes! Despite only 48% of people admitting trust in Corporate America, 49% of people said they were more likely to buy from a company they trusted. Building a brand consumers feel confident in directly impacts your bottom line. Generally speaking, there are two ways you can build trust in your brand.
The first and most obvious type of trust is through your corporate identity. This might be reflected in your commitment to ethically sourcing materials, paying fair wages, sustainability, equity, or a combination of different ideologies your brand aligns with. Regardless of the path you are on or seeking to take, achieving corporate-level trust is one of the most powerful ways to maintain a connection to those who love your product(s).
Here’s the thing, though: you cannot just slap a label on your products, craft the perfect marketing campaign, or sloganeer your way into an ideology. Your company should incorporate these values into as many aspects of your business and brand as possible. You can’t just talk the talk, you have to live it out, because your consumers are watching every step and misstep you take (we’ll discuss how to handle missteps a little further down).
Product Based Trust
The other deciding factor in consumer trust comes by way of your actual products. Everyone wants to buy something that does what it promises, and this does not just mean the technical specifications. If your brand is all about being cool, your consumers want to feel cool. Think about how many people have Apple iPhones despite all the people who can point out their technical flaws. People will trust you if they can rely on your product to deliver on your promises.
Benefits of Consumer Trust
Building consumer trust in your brand and/or products does more than make people want to buy your product, but it makes consumers loyal to your brand. Increased brand loyalty often requires a combination of trust in your company and in your product, but this is the best way to get repeat, repeat, repeat customers.
Another nice thing about increased brand loyalty that comes from consumer trust: organic marketing. Maybe you work with an influencer to build brand awareness, but if you can build a small army of customers who love and promote your brand to their friends, then you have an interest bearing investment (Malcom Gladwell discusses the impact of this in his book Tipping Point).
Trust Building Strategies
You probably already know that building trust in your brand is important and can significantly help your business, but how do you actually build consumer trust?
Provide a Clear Purpose
Your company and brand likely have a mission statement that you have spent time thinking about, drafting, editing, and revising until you put together the perfect sentence representing you to your customers. Mission statements are tricky because we try to pack as much as possible into a brief statement, but they are essential to giving people a clear sense of direction.
The more you can align your mission statement with your brand’s values and consumer ideologies, the easier it is to connect with your customers because you are speaking the same language. As we’ve mentioned earlier, make sure that your mission statement is more than words and show how your corporation acts – from your hiring process to sourcing materials for your products – is represented in this statement.
Just like your mission statement provides clear purpose, your corporate communications need to communicate clear action. Don’t hide behind jargon or corporate in-speak. Remember, every outward facing communication should be directed towards your target clients, customers, and consumers.
You want your communications (visual, verbal, or written) to speak directly to them in their terms. This includes when you make a mistake – hiding things, sweeping them under the rug for a later date, is just a ticking time-bomb and all the brand loyalty you’ve built through consumer trust can blow-up in your face the second it’s revealed.
Be upfront about how you are fulfilling your corporate ideologies, where you’re working to improve, and when you have a blind spot revealed. Just like any other relationship, sincerity can go a long way in building trust.
Your customer base knows when you understand them, and employing strategic upselling is a great way to demonstrate this. Before you do, make sure you understand who your target audience is.
RELATED: You can review our article on How To Identify the Target Audience for Your Brand for more about zeroing in on ideal clientele.
Maybe you’ve done a solid job of building brand loyalty and you want to launch a new product, or you want to move clients up into a new level of service. You can strategically use influencer marketing management and PR kits to build awareness, and you can strategically gift new products to the most loyal members of your consumer base.
This is a great way to leverage trust in your brands and products to expand your market share. At the end of the day, people will stay loyal to brands that know them
There is nothing worse than having a problem that cannot be resolved. We’ve all been on the endless loop of hold-and-transfer calls that don’t seem to be resolved until you’ve escalated to the manager’s manager. This is a sure-fire recipe for losing trust quickly. If there is a problem with your products or services, you want your customers to feel confident that you will resolve the issue for them. Oftentimes, fixing this mistake will build brand loyalty – it shows you want your customers to be satisfied, and that you are a flesh and blood human being that customers can connect to.
Take Feedback and Reviews Seriously
You probably can’t respond to every single comment made about you on the internet, but if you have a disgruntled customer, ignoring it won’t make the problem go away (for more on that, check out our article, What Causes Marketing Campaigns To Fail?). Just like a one-call resolution helps show your human side to customers and your desire to see them satisfied with your work, reviewing and responding to feedback shows that you take complaints seriously and you are proactive in resolving them, not reactive. Leaving a problem unaddressed communicates a lack of care for your customers and will zero-out your trust equity before you can say, “Sorry!”
And don’t forget about a quick thanks to all those positive reviews, too – those people are touting your goods and a little gratitude from you might turn them from one-time purchaser to brand advocate.
What Damages Consumer Trust?
Building trust in any relationship can be complicated, especially when there is a transaction involved. You can take all the right steps towards building consumer trust, but you’ll want to avoid these crash-and-burn scenarios.
Not Practicing What You Preach
If one of the best ways to build consumer trust is to create a clear and purposeful mission statement, then not doing business by that code is a surefire way to negate the trust you’re building. This is something you will want to consider, even in the small choices of which influencers you might use in a marketing campaign. Remember, this is where the rubber meets the road – your corporate actions should align with the consumer ideologies you claim to represent.
Strategy Without Action
Nothing wreaks of insincerity more than jumping on the latest ideological trend when your brand has (and continues) to do nothing about the issue. Having ideologies and incorporating those into your brand is one thing, but if your brand doesn’t make consumers feel like progress is being made, they will quickly lose trust in the company.
Building consumer trust is not an easy task for any brand. Working together with experts, developing a strategy that aligns with your values, and avoiding some of the pitfalls mentioned in this article is a great way to start, but this is one area you will want to be constant and vigilant in.