Brand Trust as Seen with 5 Companies

TOMS shoes on chalk

Just like it sounds, brand trust is all about establishing trust in a company’s brand. While this may sound simple, trust in a company can take years to build. Brand trust considers companies in a holistic manner. Consumers want to believe in a company they are about to buy from. Everything from their mission statement to their product information matters. Honesty and transparency are huge components in building strong relationships between companies and consumers.

Having trust in a brand leads to consumers continuously returning to the company’s goods or services. The connections that develop between businesses and consumers can also help long-term through a domino effect of positive outcomes, such as customer purchases, recommendations, and referrals. Brand trust allows for there to be a base of followers to maintain and grow the company.

Five companies are further explained below to provide a better understanding of what brand trust is about and how small businesses can take a page from their book. Although the companies range in how they function, they have great insights on how brands can develop better brand trust.

L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean prides itself in its heritage. The company began in 1911 with Leon Leonwood inventing the Maine Hunting Shoe.  Although L.L.Bean sells outdoorsy products, such as camp equipment, travel gear, and clothing, the brand focuses more on the social aspects of outdoor activities. The company’s marketing often shows families and friends happily engaged in a variety of activities. L.L. Bean’s passion for bringing people together can be seen in their outdoor programs, which are free outdoor courses for people with an L.L. Bean Mastercard. Through integrating the company’s own family stories, and also that of its customers, L.L. Bean has created strong brand trust.

Being a family-owned business or a family values business can be an easy element for a business to focus on in terms of their marketing. Similar to how relatability is imperative to building trust with people, the same goes for building brand trust. Being a company with family values tags along with ideas of teamwork, commitment, thoughtfulness, and responsibility. This can be shared through stories of the company’s history, or photographs of family members working together.

While a company may be family-owned, if that does not mean much to your business, then it does not have to be stressed in your marketing. There is not a straightforward plan that fits exactly with every company. The best way to decide on a direction to emphasize on for furthering brand trust is through taking the time to figure out what is worth focusing on both internally and externally. Being on the same page with everyone on a team is what makes a difference in being consistent and authentic. Ultimately, ask yourself what are your brand values and from there you can touch upon them in your marketing.

Patagonia

Patagonia has developed strong brand trust through their environmental activism.  They are thought leaders on sustainability. Patagonia has made many strides to be as eco-friendly as possible through their production standards, scientific research, and their Fair Trade certification. Some of their work practices are also sustainable, such as their excellent benefits for employees and promoting a Drive-Less program, which provides alternative commuting options to driving.

Their progressive social and political pieces have been able to spark conversation and bring added awareness to the issues they stand for. They dedicated their $10 million in tax cuts to environmental charities in protest of Trump’s tax bill and supported two U.S. Senate candidates based on their conservation stances. Patagonia is continuing to find ways to improve the environment and their efforts certainly make them stand out amongst other sustainable brands.

A takeaway from Patagonia’s brand trust can be how the company takes the time to try to better the environment. Both small and large companies can take action to help change the world. Positive impact can be as simple as people only using reusable water bottles at work. Or on a larger scale sponsoring a running race and only using paper straws and no plastic take away.

Other ideas could include taking a few minutes each week to pick up litter or making sure to turn off everything at the end of the day. A big part of sustainability is realizing that every action ends up being beneficial. Not every company has the resources to do extravagant environment campaigns, but any difference can still be made.

TOMS 

TOMS is a company that mainly sells lightweight cloth style shoes, but has recently added other clothing and accessories to their repertoire. For each pair of TOMS shoes that is purchased, another pair is donated. For every pair of sunglasses of theirs that is purchased, TOMS helps to restore people’s eyesight. As a result of this system, TOMS has been able to change the lives of millions of people. TOMS has been able to make a fortune for itself, while also spending and donating a fortune to people in need around the world.

Businesses have the opportunity to help their communities by giving back in a variety of ways. They can donate money, shoes, food, or even volunteer their expertise pro bono. Businesses can use their resources (consumers, connections, time, and money) to aid their community. Often, it feels good for businesses to give back to the local area that helps them do their work. Helping the community is something that is praised, so it is often not hard to promote it. While information should be shared on the company’s own website, email, and social media outlets, it can also be communicated to others through different local providers, including newspapers and radio. Marketing a company’s efforts for helping out the community can be beneficial on so many levels. One of these being brand trust because it shows the company is not just focused on themselves, but those around them too.

Ramblers Way

Ramblers Way is a company in Kennebunkport, Maine and Portland, Maine that makes sustainable clothing. Their sheep, garment production and retail are all contained within the United States, which the founder Tom Chappell felt was important. Ramblers Way is very detail oriented. Anyone is able to know what is happening at every step of the way as the company expertly describes it online. The company’s conscientiousness is also apparent in what they sell. With a smaller array of options, Ramblers Way can focus on what they believe in, creating clothing pieces in a sustainable manner. Together with Ramblers Way’s transparency, they are able to have excellent brand trust.

The clarity that Ramblers Way offers its consumers is impressive. Their website and social media platforms make it clear exactly how the company runs, such as explaining in detail the specific types of wool they use and the money they spend on donations. This can be also be reciprocated through other companies. Sharing information about the company’s past and present all work to aid brand trust.

Another part of transparency can be taking responsibility for previous wrongdoings, such as poor customer service because then the issue can be viewed as something which has since been improved upon. The more that is shared about a company, the better reputation and brand trust it will have.

Facebook

Contrastingly, Facebook is an example of an organization that has weak brand trust. The popular social media site has been caught in multiple controversies since its birth, but most recently regarding its privacy with user information. Yet, the company seems to have put minimal effort into taking any responsibility or making changes. Unfortunately, brand trust can be taken away from a company in minutes, while it can take years to build brand trust. Facebook has a lot of work ahead of itself if it wants to gain more brand trust again.

Companies that have gotten into controversial messes often lose a lot of their brand trust since there is no longer a strong relationship. Facebook has had recurring issues regarding their use of private user information. In response to these matters, the leaders of Facebook tried to sell excuses, but the lack of transparency caught up to them and people did not want to hear it. While sometimes certain problems cannot be avoided, what has been frustrating about the Facebook fiasco is that it could have been avoided. Even after the issue came to light, the company should have done a lot more.

Bumps in the road are inevitable, but knowing how to handle a crisis can change the situation. A key factor is communication. Sometimes that may be talking directly with a single consumer, but other times it may be sharing information with all consumers. Marketing can help to smooth out issues. Taking a moment to consider how best to approach the issue can be worth it in the long run. People are quick to remember negative things, but with the right plan of action it will all work out.

This blog was written by our marketing intern, Maura Honan. Maura is a communications studies major at Saint. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. 

 

Interview With Our Lead Developer, Phil Condon

Portrait Photograph of Lead Developer Phil CondonThe lead developer at an agency doesn’t just create websites to meet clients’ needs. They also serve as their team’s mentor, oversee how the development of projects is going, and contribute to the biggest web and/or app products. Our lead developer, Phil Condon, has mastered all of these responsibilities along with picking the best songs to listen to and cracking the funniest jokes throughout the workday.  Since Phil has a lot to offer, we decided to chat with him so our audience could get to know him better. 

Where are you from?

Salem, MA. 

What inspired you to go into web development? 

I originally got my Associates in Graphic Design from North Shore Community College and wanted to be a designer. Then as I was going for my Bachelors I decided I wanted to learn to code. I’ve always been interested in the Internet and spend a lot of time online so I eventually got interested in how websites are made. When I started at Sperling Interactive, I was a designer/developer but over time decided development was my strength.

Where did you learn how to develop websites? 

I am primarily self-taught having used various paid and free online resources like Team Treehouse, YouTube, and Google but I got my Bachelors of Art in Interactive Multimedia from Salem State where I took a few HTML/CSS classes.

What is your favorite Sperling project to date? 

It’s hard to pinpoint one single project. I enjoy working on sites that involve creating interactive elements that drive a better User Experience. Some websites I had the privilege of working on that have great UX are Bluesel, the campaign for the Concord Museum, Harbor Tours, Bridgewell, and Brunswick School’s admission site

What is your favorite part of the website building process? 

I really like creating something from nothing. At Sperling Interactive, we start with an empty text editor and over time we eventually have a fully functional website.

What is something most people don’t know about you? 

I can juggle! 

What do you like to do for fun? 

Play sports with friends, play video games, and develop my coding skill further. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Salem? 

Live here. I’ve lived in Salem my entire life and have seen it evolve drastically over the last 27 years. I also enjoy being near the water and it’s interesting living and working in a huge tourist destination.

What is your key to success?

Having a clear plan from the beginning and persevering through any challenges that may arise.

Thank you Phil for all of your work at Sperling. To learn more about our team members, check out the interview we did last month with our COO, Rachel Grubb, here

School Marketing Tips to Elevate Your Institution

 

Photo of Three Boys at School

Private schools are just like businesses. For a school, enrollments are the equivalent to a service- based business acquiring clients. So in many ways, it can be helpful for a school to view themselves as a business, their students as their clients, and the other schools in their district as their competitors.

Though your students may not be around, you know there is still plenty of work to be done. Because as we argued you’re a business, and businesses can’t get complacent with their marketing and business development as clients come and go. As such, here are our top school marketing tips for those of you needing some inspiration.

Know Your Audience

You can’t attract your ideal student if you can’t describe them. The most effective school marketing campaigns work because the marketers behind them know and understand the target audience. To get you going, create a profile of your ideal student based on their demographic. To get you started on that student profile, ask yourself what are your ideal students’ gender, age range, and economic background? What are their parents’ priorities? APA classes, dual enrollment, career and technical education? Answering these questions will help you write better copy and know how where to delegate your efforts.

Identify Your Marketing Goals

Besides your target audience, another thing you need to identify is your school marketing goals. Every marketing campaign needs a goal as it guides what kind of content you produce and the category of your paid social media advertising efforts if you go that route. Some common school marketing goals are enrollment, donations, event attendance, and after-school programs.

Content Marketing

A blog is not only a great way to improve your SEO, but it can also provide valuable content for prospective students and their families. Your blog could be used as an outlet to spotlight students, special events, and school awards.

Another avenue you can explore with your blog is tip-based articles. You don’t want to post just content that is just there to sell your school. Families will crave informative based content too. As you know, your school isn’t just there for its students, it’s there for the parents and guardians too. Check out the blog posts we write for North Shore Christian School for some inspiration. On their blog, we not only write posts about school happenings, but we also have articles that help parents support their students with their schooling.

Newsletters are another excellent way to communicate with your target audience. Consider doing a monthly newsletter if you’re not doing that already. Like your website, make sure the format of your emails is meeting the needs of the growing number of mobile email users. Your newsletter can include recent blog posts, new hires, and upcoming events.

Have A Great Website

Your website is the hub of your online presence and as such needs to be great. It is often the first impression prospective students and parents will have with your school. Your website should be responsive (this means it appears nicely on every screen be it a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or TV screen), easy to navigate, professional, and personable.

The website should also be ADA compliant. You may have heard the word ‘ADA’ be thrown around a lot recently. It stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It became an act in 1990, and last year the state of New York saw 1,564 ADA cases. A portion of these cases were for websites. Every type of website over the last couple of years has been targeted by ADA lawsuits, both small businesses and big name brands. With that said, it has become increasingly important for all websites, especially school websites, to be accessible.

20% of the population has a disability of some sort and one in ten people have disabilities that present obstacles with using computers.

Do Press Releases

Developing relationships with local newspapers and journalists is an awesome way to get the word out about your school to the community. You want to make sure major school events like tournament wins, the opening of the school play, prom, and honor roll are documented in their publications.

Network And Partner With Other Schools

Networking is a must for small business growth and since we’ve already agreed that schools are businesses, you should be sure to network like businesses do. The relationships that are worth building with are counselors at lower schools since they often give referrals to students. Local chamber of commerce events are also worth checking out. You could make your school more marketable if your students are able to job shadow or intern at local businesses.

Get Testimonials From Alumni

Testimonials are powerful. They are more persuasive than any sales pitch. Getting testimonials from alumni can help build trust and credibility for your school. Not to mention everyone loves a good story about how somebody was transformed by a school. Consider taking your testimonial to the next level with a video.

We hope you found this article helpful. Sperling Interactive has worked with many schools in its eleven years in business. We would love to help yours if you need to outsource any work. We can be reached at (978) 304-1730.