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Valuing the brand

MOST of us inherently understand the importance of trust (whether that's in our personal friendships, business or even down to our food contents).
Brand trust might appear to some as a somewhat fuzzy notion, but ultimately it delivers hard, tangible bottom line results for organisations and brands. It creates lifetime consumer cycles; when customers have trust and loyalty for a certain brand they may use that brand for their entire lives.
This drive to create lifetime consumers also convinces firms to spend millions to advertise and develop new products, too.
Given brand is "the relationship with the customer" and/or "implied guarantee of quality or experience extended by your firm", any breach of that contract with your customer and/or employees, and their expectations, will place the brand in jeopardy.
A case in point is that of Merrill Lynch in the US. Investors and government regulators challenged Merrill and its commission-based executives for hyping stocks and for other questionable practices.
The CEO spent more than $1 million redecorating his office and then pushed through $3.6 billion in executive bonuses the day before he agreed to a takeover by Bank of America.
Basically, a brand that has lost consumer trust is no longer a brand; it's merely a name.
The Merrill Lynch brand now ... close to worthless.
Brand trust ... the bottom line
Recent studies into the benefits and drivers of brand trust found that when people trust a brand:
• 83 per cent will recommend it to others;
• 82 per cent will use its products and services frequently;
• 78 per cent will look to it first, for the things they want;
• 78 per cent will give its new products and services a chance;
• 50 per cent will pay more for its products/services; and
• 47 per cent believe it will keep them informed as to new products/services they'll like.
Harnessing brand trust is basically then the key to the overarching consumer equation - with and through trust, they'll pay more, try more and ultimately, buy more.
So how do we capture more brand trust? Interestingly, research has found all of the six drivers below equally correlate in ability to build brand trust but are most effective collectively.
• Stability: your brand needs foundations and to be stable in order to be trusted.
• Innovative: continuing to develop and innovate.
• Provide a relationship: brands must open up a relationship with the customer.
• Must have practical value.
• Be competent and deliver.
• Vision: adopting guiding principles and behaviours which live that vision.
Tips for building greater brand trust
Set about defining your brand's trust drivers. Has the organisation set a brand vision; one which engages and attracts customers, consumers and employees? Does the organisation have established brand organisational values, metrics and acceptable behaviours linked into these?
And do they resound with, and 'live' that vision. Finally, develop marketing tactics - processes and programs - that both internally (with your employee/team culture) and externally, across business activities and customer communications lend themselves towards building greater brand loyalty and trust.
Finishing with an important quote from Niall Fitzgerald, former chairman, & CEO Unilever, and current chairman of Reuters: "You can have all the facts and figures, all the supporting evidence, all the endorsements you want, but if (at the end of the day) you don't command trust, you won't get anywhere."

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