What builds brand trust and what breaks it blog image. Background has a laptop screen with the word brand displayed. In the foreground is a graphic of a man putting icons on to a phone screen.

Why is it important to build brand trust?

Consumer data has become increasingly and frequently misused. The spread of false information and the surge of poor quality products and services online has prompted customers to be more cautious with their purchases. In addition, consumers have become increasingly aware and have social media and review platforms readily available where they can express their opinions. Therefore, it is now more difficult than ever to build brand trust but this makes it all the more important. 

Customers need more reassurance that the brands they are buying from behave as responsible global citizens. Companies need to work harder to ensure customers continue to trust their brand. Building brand trust is, therefore, an essential step in convincing potential customers to choose your business.  

There are now also a growing number of examples of customers taking coordinated coercive action against brands. Those businesses are then penalised for their irresponsible behaviour. For example, Facebook recently underwent an ad boycott where over 400 companies including Coca Cola, Adidas, Ford and Lego removed their advertising from the social network site, protesting against the way Facebook handles hate speech and other harmful content on the site. Similarly, customers protested and fought back against multinational food and drink conglomerate Nestlé who were bottling and selling water from the San Bernardino National Forest without any legal right, reducing water flow to millions and damaging the natural surrounding area. 

These are two large scale examples of customers rejecting irresponsible behaviour from companies.  However, any business can suffer if they are penalised by search engines for failing to meet quality guidelines. For instance, Google can de-index your website or information if you are performing actions such as cloaking, hiding text so that it can be seen by search engines but not users or setting up pages with the pure intent of manipulating search engine results. These actions cause others to distrust your business and may lead to your business information being removed by Google. 

So, what can your business do to build brand trust and avoid breaking it? 

 

  • Provide excellent customer service  – When a customer has a bad experience with a company, they often refuse to interact with the brand again. Poor customer service tells your customer that your brand does not care or does not have time for them. This will lead to scathing reviews and a bad reputation. To build customer trust in a brand then, you need to establish a good relationship with customers. You can do this by treating customers with respect and going above and beyond to please your customers.

 

  • Be consistent – Consistency is crucial to building trust in any relationship and building a customer’s trust in your brand is no exception. Inconsistent logos, slogans, and tone will damage customer trust in the brand. Additionally, if your business data online is different across different platforms this will confuse the customer. For example, if the phone number provided is different on Facebook as to on your Google listing result. Inconsistencies like this will lead customers to deem your brand unprofessional and untrustworthy. To avoid this, ensure that your brand image and business information remains accurate and consistent everywhere. This includes your website, across all social media platforms, anywhere that your brand appears. This will make your brand both recognisable and trustworthy.

You can use a hyperlocal marketing tool, like Vicinus, to assist you with this. Vicinus can help you manage and maintain all your business listing data online. It ensures that all your consumer-facing information is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date. 

 

  • Create great quality content – Creating and publishing great quality content is just as important as providing a great quality product, service, or website. Many businesses nowadays produce their own content online, be that via blogs or video content. That means it is important to show potential customers you are a current, up-to-date brand that can be trusted. When content is vague, inaccurate, or even just boring, customers will start to distrust and lose interest in your brand. To build brand trust, provide good quality content and promote your business as one that cares. Remember though – avoid heavy and obvious sales pitches! Make sure your content is engaging, entertaining, and provides useful and informative information for the user. This way you are demonstrating your culture and expertise to potential customers and encouraging brand trust.

 

  • Be ethical and give back – Customers nowadays want the companies they are buying from to be ethical in every way possible. It is not enough just to provide an affordable and efficient product or service anymore. To build brand trust, it is important to ensure your business is being environmentally friendly whenever and wherever possible. You must also be inclusive; promote equality and give back to the community by helping out with local projects and getting involved with charities etc. These things make a real difference in how customers perceive your business. They will increase brand trust and help generate returning customers.

 

  • Check for language and spelling mistakes – If written content is grammatically incorrect, this will severely impact a customer’s trust in your brand. Mistakes in your website copy, on social media, or even in an email suggest to the customer that the company may be untrustworthy. Customers might then think you will provide a poor quality product or service. Double check everything before you publish it on the internet if you want to build brand trust.

As mentioned previously, Vicinus can help you manage the data about your business you list online. 

  • Communicate with customers and respond to reviews – Customers will often reach out to a company with questions about their service or product. If a customer does not receive a reply for several days, or weeks, this dramatically decreases brand trust. Even more so if the information they recieve is incorrect. Not only is the customer unlikely to make a purchase themselves, but they are also unlikely to recommend the brand to others. So, it is vital to respond to customers with the correct information as quickly as possible. Similarly, responding to customer reviews is fundamental to building brand trust. Whether customer reviews are positive or negative,  by responding you prove to the customer that your brand is trustworthy. It shows them that your business is responsive and attentive to both their needs and their perception of your business.

Vicinus uses ML-led sentiment analysis technology called Amazon Comprehend to identify sentiments and location-specific insights in customer reviews to help you respond to reviews in the best interest of your business. With the Vicinus review auto-responder tool, you can even set up automatic replies to reviews based on their sentiment and star rating. This means you can be building brand trust, even when you are too busy to personally respond to reviews.

 

  • Have compelling and accurate images representing your business – If images of your business online are not accurately representing your business, then customers may be confused and distrust your brand. For instance, if a photo of a road sign comes up instead of a photo of your business building. Customers and external users can upload their own images to your business listings online. While this can be great for your business, it can also damage your reputation. Inaccurate images or images which present your brand in a bad light can prevent brand trust. Therefore, monitoring these images and removing those which may hinder brand trust then is very important.

Vicinus uses Google’s Cloud Vision API technology to analyse the images uploaded to your Google My Business listings to understand the expressions of people in photos and identify the objects present in the images. This helps you recognise when irrelevant or damaging images have been uploaded to your listings. With this insight, you can maintain a great business reputation online. 

In summary then, what is the key to building brand trust?

The underlying principle to all of this and the key to building brand trust is simply providing an organised, efficient, and quality service in every way possible. Excellent customer service, whether that be via direct communication or review responses, providing accurate and consistent information, as well as great quality content, products or services will assure the customer that your brand is reliable and help to build brand trust. 

 

Published by Daisy Andrews on July 30, 2020