There is a lot of grey area in brand reputation today. Brands left, right and centre are engaging in a multitude of different marketing campaigns, yet many are not putting consumer interests at the forefront of their decisions. This leaves people skeptical as to who is truly genuine, and who is just trying to make a quick buck and then handball them off, potentially in a worse position than they were in before.
In the end, consumers are asking themselves this question: “Does (insert brand) actually give a shit about adding value to my life?”
They aren’t stupid - they can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. And if brands don’t truly embody that they do give a shit, there is no way that consumers will trust them.
To understand why customers wouldn’t trust a brand, we need to understand the innate psyche of the human mind. Human beings crave belonging and connection. Their relationships provide them with purpose and inspire them to live fruitful lives. But they can’t form these relationships without developing a sense of trust with the outside world. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, before being able to form intimate relationships with the outside world, humans must feel that they have security and safety in their lives.
This is a crucial element of how brands can best interact with customers. Would a consumer engage with a product or service if they do not feel that their money invested is in safe hands? No way! Would consumers develop loyalty to a brand if they had any sliver of a doubt that the brand could screw them over in the foreseeable future? Again - a bit fat NO!
So how can brands win trust, be authentic, and show that they ACTUALLY care about their consumers? Here are a few tips.
Research, research, research!
Think about it simply. How can you trust someone you don’t know? Would you share all your secrets with someone who you don’t honestly think can use that information to benefit you? It is no different for brands. Brands CANNOT provide value to consumers that they don’t truly know. So they need to do their research - talk to their consumers, seek out their opinion, understand their habits. Then, they are setting themselves up to be a trusted brand.
Trusted brands are also brave brands. When a brand takes a risk and engages in brave initiatives, they do it because they believe they know their customers inside and out and are willing to put themselves on the line out of a deep belief that they can add value to their lives. If these businesses didn’t care, they wouldn’t be taking risks and would be happy to fly under the radar for eternity, insidiously making profit without adding sufficient, tangible value to society. So, once brands are certain that they know their customers and are in a position to add value, customers are likely to respond positively to their initiatives, as brand vulnerability is also an indication that they are truly putting their reputation on the line with a clear customer-first motivation.
Stay in contact.
There is a reason why consumers trust each other more so than they trust brands. Consumers interact with each other every day. Consumers are constantly sharing their thoughts, opinions, and activities with each other, and as such are developing a relationship where both parties are truly on the same page. Consumers are friends with each other. Thus, the equation is simple: Brands should treat consumers like friends. Engage with them on social media, through emails, over the phone. This will allow them to develop interpersonal relationships where the customer can feel that the brand actually cares about them, and truly has their best interests at heart.
Consumers are human beings after all. So as a brand, be authentic and treat them as you would want to be treated. Then, you