Can your brand be trusted?
Brand trust. It’s a bit of a topic these days. For me the question goes back one level, because to be a trusted brand you have first be a brand people CAN trust.
So what does it take for people (employees, customers, suppliers, partners, regulators, analysts, the media, the public) to have confidence, to feel that “trustfulness”?
The annual Trusted Brands survey carried out by Readers Digest will be out again soon, however I am not sure trust is really something you can ever really survey, as what exactly is trust is different for everybody.
There have been attempts to corral what the key elements of building trust are. From one presentation I found they listed: have a foundation of stability; continuing to develop and innovate; provide a relationship; delivery practical value; have a guiding vision; have competence.
Sounds pretty much like what it takes to be in business, but I think you can be quite stable, innovative, deliver value, have a vision, show competence and provide a relationship and STILL not be trustworthy – so if trust isn’t a laundry list of attributes what is it?
I’ll present a simpler idea. In order to be worthy of trust make promises you can keep and keep them. I’m not sure about you but I can’t remember the last time I really trusted someone or some company who didn’t do that. It’s a simple equation too often forgotten in the rush to convince potential customers and employees how great a company is.
Witness the recent National Australia Bank campaign (among many others), where the promises being made are much bigger than can ever be realistically delivered. And I know it’s “just marketing” but a promise is a promise and the promise not kept will undermine our ability to trust the brand no matter whether the promise was made in an ad, on a banner pulled behind a plane or in the fine print of the terms and conditions.
Some brands do keep their promises (well most of them). For starters, here is a short and incomplete list of some of the brands I trust...
Journal Café (in Flinders Lane Melbourne) – when I order my pot of green tea (made with leaves not bags) with honey on the side and extra hot water, that’s what I get (along with a great atmosphere and a hello from owner Johnny).
Apple – do I really need to explain?
BMW – I love driving (and 21 years later the 1990 shape is still the best ever).
Moleskin Notebooks – every time I turn to a new slightly off-white page I get a sense of possibility.
Patagonia – they embody the ideal of an aligned brand and their apparel feels great, looks great and lasts forever (and they always look for ways to tread more lightly on the environment).
Community Banks of Colorado – years after I moved back to Australia, I still remember their personal service and the way they made it so easy to do business with them. Australian banks could learn a thing or two.
Jim Collins – truths with a small “t” that stand the test of time, and one of the first people
to demonstrate to me what an authentic, aligned brand that keeps it’s promises really looks like.
Who’s on your trusted list and why? Who is trustful of your brand?
See you next week.
Michel Hogan is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog - Brand Alignment. is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog - Brand Alignment.