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Trusting Brands

More than ever, brand is another word for trust. A drop in trust diminishes the brand, and customer confidence is like money in the bank that a brand spends when it gets into trouble. This past year has brought plenty of brand disasters that raise the question—just how much trust do you have to burn through before you go brand-bankrupt?

It seems unlikely that Samsung, whose products literally caught fire, will recover anytime soon—a September survey found that 40% of Samsung customers will never buy another Samsung phone. By contrast, Facebook, thrown in a bad light over accusations it failed to filter election-swaying hoax news feeds, and caught exaggerating their video view rates by 60-80%, has not experienced mass desertion by advertisers, who have little viable alternative. Wells Fargo got exposed for bullying its employees into opening fake bank accounts to drive shareholder value, and yet Wall Street analysts are still giving its stock mostly “buy” or “outperform” ratings.

The list of apparently Teflon brands is long. But how do you build brand trust like that, especially if you’re new to market? Some brands, such as Everlane and newcomer Vinomofo, have taken a novel approach to transparency with customers. Other recommendations include treating your first clients like VIPs, and soliciting customer feedback. How will you keep, build or rebuild trust in your brand?

Action points:

  1. Constantly inform your brand. Solicit and process feedback, regularly, from customers, suppliers and the market.
  2. Stay open and enthusiastic about opportunities to innovate when it comes to delighting your customers. Learn from airline and hospitality leaders—their VIPs feel special and appreciated.
  3. Focus on building your reputation. When you deliver (or, preferably, over-deliver) on customer expectations, you grow trust, and you grow your brand.

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