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Brand Trust: What is it, and How Do You Create It?

Trust is something that every customer-facing brand wants to achieve. Why? Because more trust means customers are more likely to engage with your brand, do more and better business with you, refer you to others, and generally bolster your brand and bottom line.

In short, brand trust ultimately leads to more loyalty.

But taking a step back, what exactly is brand trust? How do you define and measure it? And more importantly, how do you create it?

We’ve seen attempts at quantifying brand trust over the years, one of the most prominent being Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. Polling 51,673 consumers ages 16 to 65, the CLEI relies on a proprietary research methodology that “fuses emotional and rational aspects [of the market categories it examines], identifies four path-to-purchase behavioral drivers for the category-specific ideal, and identifies the values that form the components of each driver, along with their percent-contribution to engagement, loyalty, and profitability.”

Essentially, it’s a complex calculation that involves several purchasing and engagement behaviors, coupled with consumer sentiment. While it’s hard to say how accurate this particular measure is, two things we can agree on are:

  1. Brand trust involves consumers’ belief in the strength and reliability of a particular organization, and
  2. Brand trust should be measured based on the outcomes achieved for the business, both emotional and economic.

The exact formula for making this calculation may vary from business to business, but the result, benchmarked over time, is what’s really important. If brand trust is increasing, customer engagement and sales should ascend in tandem.

Believe it or not, creating brand trust is the easiest part of this debate. That is, the easiest in theory – because what brands need to do to create trust is rather intuitive:

  • Do: Understand each individual’s unique preferences. Personalize your engagement efforts. Communicate and share information on the customers’ terms. Pull back the curtain to give a peek behind the scenes. Deliver offers that are timely and contextual. Streamline the customer experience across channels and platforms. Use data customers entrust you with judiciously to create value.
  • Don’t: Treat customers like they’re one of many. Send “offers” that aren’t useful to the person receiving them. Be impersonal or lack a voice. Overshare or spam. Ignore context in your outreach. Abuse data or violate privacy.

How brands achieve trust, tactically in practice, is where things get more complex. Leveraging the data consumers have chosen to share with you in the right way is a delicate business. Not only are new privacy laws emerging and evolving, but what customers value varies from person to person, day to day and platform to platform.

Building brand trust happens over time through smarter, more personalized and timely engagements and offers. It involves not only marketing, but also every line of business that touches the consumer; from sales and services to product acquisition and development. Bringing together those often-siloed roles and the data they manage, then transforming that data into actionable insights that scale across the needs of the enterprise – that’s how you build brand trust. That’s how you build long-term loyalty.