About three decades ago, a recognisable brand was the ultimate anchor for a business to penetrate its target market. Although the internet has been in the market for several decades, the impact it has made in the last few years is incomparable to previously observed.
The rapid evolution of the internet and online market has provided brands with the opportunity to go global. On the other hand, it has empowered the potential consumer with so much exposure that they can easily access all the information about brand reputation, product quality, and purchasing with just a few clicks.
This has unveiled more challenges for the brands sustaining recognition, now having to struggle with building the ‘brand trust’ online for improved business growth.
What Is Brand Trust?
Brand trust can be defined as “The willingness of the brand’s product or service to perform up to the potential consumer’s expectations extracted from the brand’s Vision, Mission, Goals or promised Value Proposition.”
A brand trust might be just another intangible feature, but as per the Edelman Trust Barometer Report 2021 “Trust, is the new Brand Equity.”
It’s one thing to become king of the hill, and it’s another to hold on for long. We’re all aware that it is harder to maintain customer retention than earning the new ones. Still, the premium received through a perfect customer journey that enhances the consumer loyalty towards a brand could be much more than getting many new customers with no brand loyalty.
Because when the brand has earned positive equity through great customer service or excellent handling by a sales team, their consumer might even pay a higher price for its services or products and that’s what a consumer trust which makes them take this decision.
Why Do People Trust Brands?
- Product Experience: In the survey conducted, 87% of the respondents cited their personal product experience as the primary factor in trusting the brand.
- Customer Experience: 56% of the respondents cited their customer experience as a key factor in trusting the brand. This included the company’s treatment offered to a consumer, how quickly their queries or complaints were responded & how well they protect the client’s privacy.
- Impact on Society: 38% of the respondents cited the brand’s ‘Societal Considerations’ in developing trust for the brand. This included; how fairly the staff is treated (a major one) and the brand’s stance on other societal issues like climate change, gender, & race.
Why Is Brand Trust Important?
Launching a brand, developing a website, and putting customer service in place might give the business a leg to stand on, but it isn’t enough to stand out from the fold. One thing that must be made clear is that launching all these business functions is one thing and improvising them over time to enhance the consumer experience is another.
Devising a strategy and penetrating the market to reach potential consumers is only half of the battle for a new brand. Not only to survive but to thrive in the long run, ‘building brand trust’ is as important as other mentioned parts of the business process.
Based on some stats, 61% of the consumers study on-site reviews before completing a purchase. This establishes a premise that modern consumers look for reasons to trust a brand before investing money in their product or service.
The expanding horizons through ‘technology and globalisation’ might seem fascinating; it came with its challenges. While there are benefits attached to a competitive marketplace and endless choices coming with it, how can one be so sure that a brand from the other part of the globe would deliver and do so reliably?
The best aggressive strategy to mitigate this impact is to ‘establish & sustain brand relevance.’ Brand relevance is the business’s capability to connect with consumers’ emotions and become personally relevant.
It isn’t consumers’ thinking and perception about the brand but their feelings when they hear about you. Prompting statements like “watching Netflix makes me feel good” cause excitement to the consumer, which they feel every time they spend time on Netflix.
This strategy would surely reap fruits in the long run because when the brand hits the right chord with the consumer, they want to be appealed. This compels the potential consumer to buy the product, which lowers the acquisition cost and increases the lifetime value of consumers.
Benefits of Building a Brand Trust
Although building and maintaining trust online has created a brand’s job crucial, some benefits come along too. The extensiveness of social media platforms, especially and the internet, in general, is that every consumer is empowered with a tool to vocalise their positive review or critique to millions of others. We aren’t aware of the impact that one negative review could make, but we’re so sure that no brand would want to experiment with it.
Building brand trust online can increase market receptiveness. How’s that? Market Receptiveness is a measure of how the market you are targeting is open to your message. One of the features of a human brain is ‘perpetual filtering’, which determines what to ignore and what not. The more the targeted audience trusts your messages and has positive perceptions about the source of information, the more likely it would be open to accepting those messages.
Loyalty is a two-way street; if the consumer asks from you, you’re getting from them. Consumers who trust a brand will likely stay loyal because they have developed a perception of being secured with the products or services provided by the brand.
It is a tough job for the brand to retain the consumers, it is also hard for the consumers to switch given the circumstances they’ll have to face; finding a new brand, testing their product and services without any idea how it might turn out to be.
Consumers building loyalty to a brand wouldn’t limit them to just buying your product or service. But, the brand being unequivocally exceptional would make them promote your brand to their social circle as well. Not only would they love buying your product or service, but they would take pride in recommending you as a reliable brand to their family and friends.
The impact made through positive word of mouth could bring back way more than the marketing campaign you run every day. Why? Because that particular social circle is getting a referral from someone, they fully trust.
Use These Ways To Build A Brand Trust Online
Building brand trust online doesn’t happen overnight; it takes consistency, grit, and mutual effort from the team to jot down the consumer’s expectations from you, narrowing down what you can offer, and finally, initiate consistent brand communication and identity.
Build A Clear Value Proposition
A clear ‘value proposition’ is what your brand is built around. It must be thoroughly researched, well-thought-out and especially, something your consumer can relate to. Even with this much cruciality of this feature, according to Quicksprout, more than half of the businesses – 54% to be exact – aren’t consistent in optimising their value proposition. It could become a hurdle in establishing brand trust.
Know Your Potential Customers
Given the circumstances caused by the covid, having a properly defined target market is considered more important than before. Knowing your customers means knowing what they perceive about you. There are three pillars through which a brand can identify what kind of possible perception consumers have in their minds:
- Perceived Ability: Can your brand do what it claims to perform? Your brand’s perceived ability in the eyes of potential consumers.
- Perceived Benevolence: Does the brand cares about me? This one’s hard to achieve, but being consistent in communicating ‘yes, the brand does’ through different techniques will surely prove.
- Perceived Integrity: Building a set of values mutually shared and considered by the potential consumers would help you devise a proposition that eventually helps build trust.
Make sure your brand’s value proposition is built around these perceptions and consistently optimised.
Build Brand Trust Goals
Think of a goal as an outcome that your team is working towards and, we have established an argument that the outcome is building trust online.
It can be achieved by defining what brand trust means to the company, deriving small chunks in the form of objectives that align with the ultimate outcome.
There are many consumer reviews sites – Yelp, Google My Business, Trustpilot, or you could even send out a survey to all your subscribed customers post-delivery of the product or service.
Set up Google Alerts to monitor the discussion happening around your brand keywords. You can precisely track those keywords, extract everything that you think would improve customer satisfaction if incorporated.
Build Intuitive Website
Your website development must be carried out in a way that its design accurately reflects the audience you’re targeting. So, the website’s design must create a sense that the brand knows and understands the potential consumers visiting the website.
To improve the consumer experience for a brand is vital to stand out and lead to some new metrics imperative to follow.
The specific one is how companies design their digital products – design thinking, brand colors as It represents relevancy between brand identity and UX, collectively making the consumer interaction more appealing and intuitive.
Ask Us Anything
Build Content That Serves
Creating branded content is one of the proactive ways to establish yourself as a thought leader and gauge potential consumers’ attention as the brand could address the consumer’s pain points they’re struggling with. This way, a brand can pose itself as an authentic and empathetic resource.
Once the user feels convinced that the brand can deliver what they’re looking for, they’ll be way more likely to buy from the brand.
But, the content must be more educational rather than promotional. Because people aren’t much interested in knowing how great you are, instead they want to see how effectively your content will solve their problems.
The consumer’s journey has three stages beginning, middle, and end. Research by the Conductor shows how powerful an impact can the beginning have on brand trust and consumers’ purchasing decisions. As per the study, consumers are 131% are likely to purchase from the brand after reading their piece of educational content.
The key that should be followed when writing valuable content, using the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content should be educational and non-promotional while the rest 20% can be about your product or service.
Utilise User Generated Content
As the internet has given an opportunity to everyone to build their businesses online, the number of fraudulent activities has increased. So, the brand can utilise the user-generated content by encouraging their consumers to share their reviews based on instances they personally experienced.
92% of potential consumers rely on reviews and recommendations of people who have used the product and experienced the service over what the brand claims through their content.
User-generated content can be in the form of reviews, a forum discussion. In short, this can turn out to be a technique in which your satisfied customers become your brand advocates.
Foster Positive Word of Mouth Online
Brands spend millions to devise strategies and execute them to generate desirable results. But, amid this competition, a major chunk of the brands tend to neglect one of the most powerful areas; Word of Mouth!
A statement floated by M. Nick Hajili in the International Journal of Market Research: “Trust, encouraged by social media, significantly affects intention to buy. Therefore, trust has a significant role in ecommerce by directly influencing intention to buy and indirectly to influence perceived usefulness.”
Although mainstream advertisement will remain the primary platform any brand would use to connect with the audience, still, consumers around the globe see the social proof as in reviews and recommendations from friends and other online consumers by far the most credible.
Build Brand's Social Visibility
Given the more competitive marketplace than ever, for a brand to get ahead of the competition requires rigorously squeezing as much as out of every opportunity it gets.
As mentioned earlier about the social proof, recommendations from friends, family, and other online consumers are considered more trustworthy.
So, a brand’s social visibility through consistent activity across all the social media channels and nurturing positive consumer reviews and testimonials can be great ways to attract new customers.
Earn Verified Badges On Social Media Platforms
Have you seen the “blue checkmark” next to a brand name on social media channels? That’s earned a verified badge which enhances the brand’s reputation and trust. In addition to the incredible feeling you get from reaching this milestone, these badges help in:
- Maintaining customer trust
- Building Social Proof for the potential consumers
- Increase in followers
Above all, it poses your company brand as more legitimate and credible. All it requires is to establish a noteworthy presence through consistency in posting high-quality content.
Build Presence On Reviewing Sites
Host Live Q&A's Sessions
There’s no other way for the brand and the consumer to be as directly interactive as they can through online Q&A’s sessions. Whether a brand is hosting a live Q&A’s session on Instagram or Facebook, or a webinar on their site, above all, a live video event – these are some of the best ways to build trust.
The unique aspect about this is the unedited version that not only motivates interest but also instils trust. Consumers can freely have their concerns addressed. This might require a proper plan of action to execute.
The ROI will surely be different as it’s the live session, and the consumers are aware that the answer they’re getting is subtle and hasn’t been stamped “approved” by the PR department, so it’s a great way to build a brand trust online.
Build Brand's Consistency
Brand consistency ensures the delivery of brand messaging across all the marketing channels to maintain cohesiveness. This makes the brand to be easily recognisable through consistent exposure of brand identity elements and poses a unified experience for both the potential and existing customers.
According to Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Professor, 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious, which shows that the purchase decisions are rather emotional than practical.
Utilising emotional-based marketing campaigns is more of selling a feeling. Why do people feel smart driving a Tesla? Because the brand marketed their product for something intangible but most sought after. They designed their campaigns around this concept which people positively responded to and eventually increased market receptiveness.
So, brand consistency is a driving factor to build brand trust among the customers, and by implementing consistent brand messages and visual elements which embody the concept that brand wants to portray, It can help in building rapport with their targeted audience and become an option that is always on the top of their minds.
Build Exceptional Customer Service
Customer service is critical to every business, but it has its limitations in building trustful relationships. It is somewhat transactional – addressing a query, sorting out problems or guiding to choose a suitable product or service.
But, ‘customer experience’ goes beyond what even excellent customer service does. It is a customer’s journey with a brand, and if cultivated well, it can give customers a personalised experience that exhibits your familiarity with the customer’s needs.
As per the statistics by PwC, 73% of the consumers consider customer experience as one of the essential factors in purchasing decisions, yet only 49% of the consumers say companies deliver. If the delivered customer experience gets better and better over time, your customers are more likely to trust your brand.
Utilise Product Images & Vidéos
Although the primary focus of building trust online isn’t to sell products, the detailed product videos and images undoubtedly help build credibility and authenticity, exhibiting the quality of your products and removing uncertainties. Videos can be intimidating if thoughtfully crafted as they convey your brand story and serve the value proposition that everything is built on.
In addition to this, try presenting the product’s pictures as accurately as possible. An accurate image will quickly demonstrate the idea and help people imagine using the parent part of the subconscious mind. This occurs at an intangible level, but if the product image helped the potential consumers gauge the idea quickly, they would feel more confident purchasing it.
Build Clarity & Transparency
Have you come across someone who tried to intimidate you through the information that you actually knew was concocted and fake? Guess what? Your reviews can pose the same sense if they’re fake. Sometimes a rating of 4.5 out of 5 is more appealing than 5 out of 5. Because people not only have witnessed it but experienced it as well.
To build a brand as reputable and trustworthy, it has to utilise ways to nourish the positive perception. To give a proper shape:
- Try creating relevant content that’s based on the brand values and culture.
- Be authentic in sharing your brand story, create customer-oriented policies that have been embraced by other brands and proved to be fruitful.
- Always try to stay true to what your brand stands for because people can easily spot ‘trust-washing.’
Write FAQs Addressing Customer's Concerns
Potential consumers will be pleasantly surprised If you spotted a concern and addressed it through FAQ’s way before they might have spotted it. Because when customers start looking for the problem they faced, and upon doing some research, your brand turns up to be the first one to have addressed it; this wouldn’t be just an answer to their query, but it will instil a thought in the customers’ mind about your brand’s proactivity.
Arrange a brainstorming session on concerns that your potential consumers might face in the future. If your product or service can help them overcome those concerns, create FAQs addressing those customers’ concerns.
Over-Deliver Customer Expectations
This one seems to be a more ‘under promise and overdeliver’ strategy. In short, deliver; In fact, over-deliver. It all starts with your’ value proposition’, the promises your brand stood for. Fulfil those promises to build customer trust.
Over-delivering customers would give both them and the brand a delightful feeling. A customer would be thrilled with the delivery beyond expectation, and the brand would get a positive push in their perceived value.
If the customer is satisfied, it could make them think of the brand as someone that really goes above and beyond to produce the desired results. The ROI will be customer loyalty through repeated purchases, referrals and the overall increase in brand trust and reputation.
Follow Up For Feedback
Customers who have purchased the brand’s product or service would need a chance to express their review, and following up for feedback would allow them to be heard and engage effectively.
Utilise Positive Reviews
The customer’s first and foremost touchpoint with a brand is most likely to be online. With an exception in some business categories like convenience stores, consumers use online platforms to find relevant information about a brand.
Like our Facebook page or following us on Instagram wouldn’t cut it out now. These could help build your online presence, but positive testimonials could prove to be helping build trust.
Ask your customer to leave a review, utilise those testimonials across all your marketing platforms to nourish the perception of positivity about your brand. Sending a proposal to a new client? Use them. Sending out a newsletter? Use them. In fact, design a separate testimonials page on your website— post frequent Instagram stories to instill a positive perception.
Respond To Negative Reviews
Delivered a product or service that wasn’t up to the customer’s expectations? You can’t undo that, but the least you can do is ‘respond’ to those negative reviews. Receiving negative feedback could feel like a punch in the gut; still, you can utilise them as building blocks for brand trust.
According to research, 53% of the customers expect the brands to respond to negative feedback within seven days, yet only 37% of the consumers received feedback. Moreover, 45% of the consumers are more likely to go for a repeat purchase if their negative feedback was catered.
Brand trust is now an ‘exhibit A’ for potential customers to purchase a product or service. No one can deny the impact consumer trust can have on a brand. So, making it an utmost priority would make wonders. Utilise all the mentioned strategies and don’t leave any of these out as each has its own role in building trust.
Patience; that’s what required for a brand to build trust. Perseverance; that’s what is required in your expected delivery. Camaraderie; that’s what your brand will get from the community it built.
About The Author
Rizwan is a Senior Marketing Associate at Abubble. One thing he loves about Digital Marketing is the instant results it delivers- starting from nothing to become a brand in no time. He has specialised knowledge in SEO Content Curation & Link Building which enabled him to help clients stand out even in heavily saturated business markets. In his spare time, Rizwan can usually be found doing e-gaming & entertaining through his quick wits - he’s great at everything!