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 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 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 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 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.
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.