The most recent MPA Big Debate on brand trust really got us thinking about how trust works between brands and consumers. Is brand trust really gone? If so, why and how do we get it back?

Trust underpins everything brands do. Recent figures show that 81% of consumers agree that the behaviour of a brand is as important as the products they sell.

The three dimensions of trust

To better understand how consumers break down brand trust levels, we have to look at the three dimensions of trust that were mentioned by Chris Garrett, founder and managing director of branding agency Bert; competence, honesty and benevolence. When you trust someone’s competence, you are simply believing that the person or entity you’re dealing with has the ability to do the job—to provide you with a reliable mobile phone, for example. Honesty refers to your sense that the brand keeps its promises and is being transparent about the phone’s specifications and features. Benevolence is when you believe that this mobile phone company has your best interests at heart and cares about you as a customer.

In day to day life and in business, we are not always aware that trust is always being built or damaged based on these three dimensions. If, for example, you bought an iPhone X from Apple and it turns out that it doesn’t actually have the 458 ppi resolution they told you about in the shop when you get around to use it, your trust for Apple as a brand will definitely drop.

Building trust

So how can brands manage these three dimensions and build trust you ask? Customer experience, clear purpose and good staff treatment will go a long way to building brand trust. We all know at least one person who has complained about a bad customer service experience they’ve had when dealing with mobile phone companies at one point or another. As a customer who is spending £800+ to buy a mobile phone, I want to go to a mobile phone shop where I will receive exceptional customer service for me to be able to recommend to the next person, so therefore, customer experience is key.

With 82% of consumers saying they trust brands with a clear purpose, a strong brand that conveys its values and purpose well will build an emotional connection with its customers. In turn, it will attract them to the business, but only if they share the same values. This is how consumers judge brand authenticity, so it’s important for brands to be who they say they are as the audience will always find out through customer experience.

Good staff treatment is one of the most important ways to maintain brand trust, mainly because your employees are your most valuable brand ambassadors. The same way you need to build an emotional connection with your consumers, the same applies to your staff. If they don’t have that connection with your brand, they are not going to be able to successfully sell your brand to paying customers – which in turn has an effect on the customer experience they go on to provide. Bad ambassador divided by bad customer services equals low brand trust. A simple, but yet accurate equation.

So how can brands maintain trust, or get it back when it’s been damaged? If consumers are going to be spending their hard earned money on your brand, it’s only fair that you also play your part and be what you say you are. Reputation currency is highly important to a brand, so just remember to maintain the three dimensions of trust.

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