Inspiring Trust

Learning from BrandZ Canada
07 December 2023
Tanya Whitehead

Vice President, Insights Division, Canada

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In today's highly competitive business landscape, building and maintaining consumer trust is more important than ever. Trust serves as the cornerstone of a brand's success, shaping consumer perceptions, loyalty, and ultimately the bottom line. Understanding the role of trust and how to cultivate it is crucial for any brand looking to thrive in the marketplace.

Trust is the instinctive belief that a brand is "right" for a person. It represents the human relationship a brand establishes with its customers, fostering loyalty and attracting new consumers when other brands fall short. 

Consumer trust is earned through everything a brand says and does, its presentation, and the experience it offers. These elements leave lasting impressions and shape the brand associations consumers form, leading them to choose one brand over another. Trust serves as a summary response that often bypasses rational thinking, acting as a shortcut in the decision-making process. 

Trust cannot be claimed by mere words; it must be cultivated from the bottom up. Brands must invest in creating the right conditions for trust to flourish. Factors such as product excellence, corporate responsibility, identification, integrity, and inclusion influence it. Trust also has a significant impact on Meaningfulness and Salience, connecting with consumers' needs and triggering positive emotional responses.

The traditional drivers of trust in a brand are product expertise and corporate reputation. These factors are especially important for well-established brands with a large consumer base. Such brands should focus on maintaining and enhancing associations with superior performance and corporate responsibility to inspire trust among both current and potential customers.

On the other hand, newer and smaller brands, as well as those targeting a younger generation of consumers, can build trust through the "3 Is" model: identification, integrity, and inclusion. Such brands should aim to create a sense of identification with their target audience, demonstrating integrity in their actions and messaging, and promoting inclusivity to foster trust.

In summary, established brands should prioritize product expertise and corporate reputation to maintain trust, while newer or smaller brands should focus on the "3 I's" model to unlock trust among their target audience:

Integrity: do what you promise

Integrity is the foundation of trust. Brands need to find new ways to signal integrity in a world where traditional trust indicators have eroded. Owning mistakes, respecting privacy and data, providing credible social proof, and being consistent across touchpoints are contemporary indicators of integrity. However, integrity alone is no longer sufficient to build trust.

Identification: connect at a human level

Identification is a powerful source of trust, especially in uncertain times. When rational bases for trust are questionable, people trust their emotions. Familiarity and shared values play a significant here. Creating a human face for the brand, showcasing authenticity, and signaling aligned values establish a strong connection with consumers.

Inclusion: build a sense of kinship

People tend to trust those who share a common sense of kinship, whether through family, community, or culture. Inclusion goes beyond creating a privileged club; it involves ceding control to customers and inviting them to invest in the brand's world.

Action points for brands

  • Check trust levels. If your brand scores lower on trust than its competitors or is trending down, it's time to take decisive action.
  • Identify opportunities. If your brand's category has higher than average trust, be careful not to lose it. If your trust is lower, see it as an opportunity to differentiate and innovate.
  • Leverage established drivers. For established brands with a wide consumer base, focus on expertise and responsibility to maintain trust and become a confident brand trusted by both users and non-users.
  • Adopt a new model. Newer and smaller brands can embrace the 3 Is model to unlock trust. Connect with consumers' values, demonstrate integrity, and treat everyone with respect.

By following these steps and taking appropriate actions, you can improve trust in your brand, foster stronger emotional connections, and positively impact your preference and equity.

To analyze and enhance consumer trust in your brand, follow these analytical steps:

  1. Measure. Assess the level of trust consumers have in your brand.
  2. Compare. Evaluate your brand's trust relative to its competitors to identify areas of strength or weakness.
  3. Analyze trends. Examine the historical trends to understand if trust is increasing, decreasing, or stable.
  4. Benchmark. Use the BrandZ database or other industry resources to benchmark your brand's trust.
  5. Identify strengths and weaknesses. Use established drivers of trust and the 3i's model (Identification, Integrity, and Inclusion) to identify areas of strength and improvement.

Kantar Canada can help you understand the impact of memorable brand experiences and how you can build stronger and lasting trust and relationships with your customers. Reach out to learn more.

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