In today’s highly commoditized market in which consumers have access to a wide range of products and services, building trust in your brand is crucial for success. And likewise, when that trust is broken, it can spell disaster for your brand and your company. Below are five tips from branding experts that will help build up your brand as reliable and worth sticking with.
Brand trust makes up the confidence and assurance customers have in the reliability, integrity, and quality of a company. When customers are told that a product is going to do something, they’ll immediately have a perception of what that something is, and then over time, experience whether it lives up to that expectation.
If the product does what they thought it was going to do, or if it does something different, but is a nice surprise, they might be willing to engage with that product more. If it does even more than they expected, then they might buy more of it.
At the end of the day, trust is built in the customer’s mind based on the delivery of it, based on their expectations from the start, and then based on expectations from their first or second experience. That’s why it’s important to know your audience and what their expectations are ahead of time, in order to meet or surpass them.
Your brand exists in the mind of your customers, and will mean something different to each person. But you can manage the perception of it through research, consistency in your corporate strategies, and purposeful messaging. Start with researching a more detailed breakdown of your audience, and build strategies that speak to their needs, their hopes and their pain points.
Brand trust is built brick by brick, and every moment of interaction with the customer represents an opportunity to build that trust. From the way they’re spoken to during a customer service call to the way their product or service is delivered, customers’ perception of your brand can be helped or harmed at every touch point.
Consistency is made up of messaging, tone, delivery and design. A consistent brand message should clearly define your positioning as a company and align with your core behaviors. If your actions consistently align with your message, customers begin to trust and delight in your service. If your brand promise is inauthentic or unable to be delivered, customers may feel disappointed or deceived.
Tone is an element that companies tend to forget as they develop their brand. Conflicting tones, however, lead to mixed messages. Is the spirit of your brand an aggressive go-getter who gets things done? A friend who is willing to lend a helping hand? If your tone switches often, customers may develop differing expectations about your product or service, making it more difficult to satisfy each customer each time they interact with you.
Imagery is perhaps the most obvious element in your brand consistency toolkit. Using brand elements thoughtfully and strategically helps build visibility and increases customer recognition and association. Consistency also builds increased legal protection for your brand should another company attempt to copy or imitate it.
Beyond these fundamental elements, the delivery of your brand through timing and across channels significantly contributes to the consistency of experience. The channels you choose, as well as the frequency of contact, create a rhythm of communication. This becomes increasingly effective as your company conducts research to better understand the types and amount of contact that your customers prefer.
One piece of the brand trust puzzle that many companies overlook is ensuring that the brand message is understood internally. You could have the world’s best marketing team preaching one thing to your outside audiences, but if you do not deliver on those promises from the inside, the effort is wasted.
When you market your brand, you’re most likely focused on how it appears to customers, and how you can convince people to buy into your brand in order to buy more of your products or services. Often, employees aren’t considered in that marketing effort, or are considered an afterthought. But it’s as important to convince employees of your brand’s value as it is for clients.
It’s one thing to keep teams informed about corporate strategies and long-term goals; it’s another entirely to convince them of the importance of that vision and gain their personal investment into making it happen. Your employees are the people actually implementing your brand and bringing it to life; therefore they need to understand why it’s worth growing.
When that vision is effectively communicated and marketed to your team, it leads to more effective collaboration. Teams that understand and value the brand know what their job is and why they’re doing it, which drives intrinsic motivation to help it grow. It also leads to less confusion down the road when it comes to, say, strategizing a solution to a problem or prioritizing items for a budget.
At the end of the day, your employees are the most important stakeholders for your company. They create and deliver the product or services that cause customers to keep coming back. So build your brand from the inside out to provide a foundation for customers and other stakeholders that gives them a reason to trust your brand.
People won’t be willing to trust a brand whose messaging isn’t aligned with their experience as a customer. Being clear with timelines, being honest about the scope of your product/service or being able to admit when you’ve made a mistake are all traits about your brand that customers will remember and will enable them to trust you in the future.
Remember that your every communication with your customers has an impact on their expectations for the future. If you over-promise just to make a sale, you’re burning customers who will be disappointed with your product and be unlikely to work with you again.
On the other hand, when your brand is expressed transparently, you’re helping shape a perception of who you are that more closely aligns with what the customer experiences when they work with you. When what they see is what they get, they’ll be likely to return in the future because they know you can be relied on to provide what your brand promises.
Throughout this process, brands need to manage the perception around themselves. It helps if you define what quality means, and what responsiveness means, or what service means. Customers who align with those expectations will stay, while customers who are looking for something else will move on. Then, if necessary, you can segment your audience through purposeful research to determine different messaging strategies that cater to different audiences.
When customers are approaching your brand for the first time, building trust with them is one of the hardest steps to take. Giving them something to relate to, that speaks to their experiences, is one simple way to stand out from the crowd.
Publish case studies that showcase your prior work with clients, or solicit client testimonials that speak to who you are as a brand. When potential leads see these, they’ll have a more concrete picture of what you represent and will be able to more easily judge whether that aligns with what they’re looking for.
By showcasing your prior work that has been successful, you’re building associations in the minds of your customers. Your case study might display your company as having integrity, or being experienced or having a versatile skill set. These testimonials build up your brand perception, and to those who are looking for companies with certain associations, it builds trust.
When combined with the above strategies, this can be an invaluable tool for creating an initial perception of your brand. Customers approaching you for the first time don’t know exactly what they’re getting into, so give them something to latch on to that aligns with what you will be delivering in the future. If successful, your customers will have had a consistent experience at every stage of the sales cycle, and will be exponentially more willing to repeat it in the future.
BrandExtract builds value by inspiring belief in people and organizations. We align your brand strategy with your corporate strategy to create exceptional opportunities for growth. To learn more about how your brand can support your goals to drive your company forward, reach out to a strategist today.Download