We only buy the things we trust

Sky diving, trust fall

We buy products, services and organisations that we trust. To help consumers decide between things, we create brands. These brands represent the reason why we should trust something or choose it above others. It’s a promise which sets an expectation.

Being able to meet this expectation is the challenge for businesses. Ensuring that quality is consistently upheld and that you are offering what consumers really want. Defining not only what you’re selling but also what you stand for.

The job for a designer is to develop the brand identity, the visual and verbal language which will encourage a healthy relationship between consumers and providers. Set expectations and foster trust.

So, how do you create trust?

  1. Show you care: It starts with understanding an audience, what they want and how to be of value to them. It’s not about a function, consider their social and emotional needs. Dove is on a body diversity crusade, promoting self-esteem, natural beauty and is a vocal champion of self-confidence.
  2. Stay honest: Brand equity is what people say about you. The perceived value of a brand name rather than the product or service itself. If we misrepresent something or fail to deliver we loose equity and the brand starts to work against us. Volkswagen wasn’t honest amidst the emissions scandal in which it was accused of cheating environmental tests. Pepsi’s blunder of an advert showed it wasn’t honest in its commitment in supporting an issue (i.e. Black Lives Matter).
  3. Be dependable: Brands are how we make sense of a maelstrom of products and services. Consumers have so much choice but having to choose can be hard work. Loyalty and advocacy is given to those brands who are clear, immediate and deliver. Volvo shouts it’s commitment to safety with it’s 2020 target of “nobody being killed or seriously injured” by one of its new cars- which has significantly increased its engagement levels. 
  4. Be generous: Give consumers the benefit of the doubt and they’ll open up to you. Take the time to make things easy, entertain and be helpful. Virgin have fun and enjoy the experience. Supported by its brand mantra, which is: “happy people make happy customers, which makes for happy shareholders”.
  5. And listen: Abandon assumptions and always ask for feedback. Sainsbury’s former CEO guaranteed a response for every letter written to him by employees. This, in addition to the monthly customer surveys indicates Sainsbury’s listens to stakeholders inside and outside the business.

This year’s conclusions of the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer show us brands need to take the lead. Out of the four institutions (media, government, NGOs and businesses), trust in business had the smallest decline, standing at 33%, but brands will continue to lose trust unless they engage with people in these very human ways.