In business, building trust is a little trickier than building close human relationships. But if we consider branding from the same perspective, it becomes a bit easier to manage.
It’s easier to trust somebody when they’re familiar to us.
The more we interact, the more we learn – about interests, lifestyle and values – and the more confident our behavioural expectations become. Similar resemblance is even better for building trust. Consider your own friend circle. Do you dress alike? Do you enjoy the same hobbies?
Do you trust them?
In branding, imitation occurs often. Coca-Cola’s iconic red and white has influenced a number of off-brand copycats – generic colas trying to capitalise on positive associations with that brand by mimicking colour, design and typography. Why? Coke sells.
Remember, replication has its limits. It’s far better to establish an original brand personality of your own than to sponge off someone else’s. Sure, customers might find you recognisable, but they’ll only remember you as the imitation – if they remember you at all.
John and Ingrid live in the same apartment complex. John is inconsistent with rent payments, often delivering instalments weeks late. In contrast, Ingrid always pays the full sum on the due date. The landlord considers Ingrid to be more trustworthy than John because she has proved her reliability through consistency.
Ingrid can be depended upon because she has established positive patterns and expectations of herself. Reliable brands do the same.
A trustworthy brand will emphasise consistency across everything – voice and tone, design, images, personal contact, packaging etc. If your brand identity remains steady, consumers will come to rely on your business again and again and again.
Self-disclosure builds trust.
If Stan is open about his ‘troubled past’ to new partner Wendy from the beginning of the relationship, Wendy is more inclined to trust Stan. Though his admission is not necessarily positive, his truthfulness is a sign of transparency – Stan has no hidden agenda.
As consumers, we’re more willing to invest in brands that speak earnestly about their mission, objectives and products. Given a doughnut that promised weight loss, and a doughnut that advertised itself as fattening, we’d choose the second option – because the marketing was true to the product.
Don’t promise something your brand doesn’t deliver. If you’re upfront from the outset, customers will invest in your honesty.
Bert and Ernie have a strong friendship. When Ernie feels dissatisfied with something Bert has said or done, he tells him. Bert listens and reacts accordingly – applying Ernie’s comments to maintain his trust.
We believe in brands that engage with their audience – businesses that tailor their services to the needs of their clients. A company that implements customer feedback demonstrates genuine care for its consumers and their opinions. Suddenly, the brand becomes more personal – it is attentive, so it is trustworthy.
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In business, we sometimes adopt an ‘inhuman’ approach to marketing. The demographic you’re hoping to attract? They’re just people. Interact with customers as you would a faithful pal, and your brand will become a trusted friend in return.