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Disrupting Traditional Notions of Brand Trust 

 Disrupting Traditional Notions of Brand Trust 

As organizations increasingly grasp the importance of cultivating trust among customers, partners, and employees , Reassessing foundational assumptions is essential for advancing trust-building initiatives. Nurturing trust among customers, partners, and the workforce, the intricate nature of trust comes to light—difficult to gauge, easy to lose, and influenced by underlying presumptions. In this article we bring to light the ‘’beliefs’’  and the actual reality behind cultivating long term trust and a winning enterprise 

The value of trust as more than just an aspiration—it’s an essential economic factor. Findings reveal that employees who trust their employers exhibit 260% higher motivation and are 50% less likely to depart. Furthermore, a remarkable 88% of brand-trusting customers become repeat buyers. Our research also underscores that trusted companies outperform peers by up to 400% in terms of market value.

However, trust, inherently human and intricate, mirrors the complexities of individuals who forge or erode it. Societal trust reveals a significant divide—a “trust deficit”—characterized by more distrust than trust among individuals. Navigating this gap demands challenging efforts to measure and cultivate trust. Thus, we developed the TrustID, an open-source measure, grounded in four trust factors:

  1. Humanity: Demonstrating empathy, fairness, and kindness.
  2. Transparency: Candidly sharing information and motives in plain language.
  3. Capability: Crafting quality products, services, or experiences.
  4. Reliability: Consistently delivering on commitments.

This trust measurement is based on thorough analysis of over four decades of research, interviews with experts, surveys from 500 brands, worker focus groups, and market trials with Fortune 500 companies. By challenging conventional wisdom, or “orthodoxies,” or ‘’beliefs’’ we uncover valuable insights, yielding unexpected revelations.

Well-known brands are the most trusted

Iconic brands regularly show up in annual, high-level trust surveys.1 It seems intuitive that large, long-dominant brands with the most customers would also be the most trusted. However, we found that many household-name brands fell below benchmark trust scores in many industries indicating that brand recognition is not synonymous with trust.

Renowned brands allocate substantial budgets to marketing and branding, yet these efforts alone are inadequate for maintaining strong trust. While a captivating commercial/ advertisement might generate social media buzz, it doesn’t guarantee genuine customer trust or product purchases.

Trust Winners: Universal Trust and the “Superfan Effect” 

Testing the belief that premier trust winners are universally trusted, our research examined both customers and prospective customers familiar with a brand but not recent purchasers. Contrary to expectations, we found no negligible trust gap between customers and these “aware consumers.”

Illustrating this, Disney Cruises boasts substantial trust variance between existing customers and brand-aware individuals. This phenomenon, dubbed the “superfan effect,” sees passionate customers bolstering total trust scores, overshadowing neutral ratings of aware consumers.

Amid our dataset of almost 500 brands, Disney Cruises ranks third in customer trust scores. Their overarching excellence in ventures such as theme parks, films, and TV yields unwavering approval. The brand’s aficionados become superfans, driving premium payments for personalized experiences, achieved through meticulous detail and a blend of capabilities, humanity, transparency, and reliability. This devotion transforms Disney into a superfan-centric brand.

Prioritizing Humanity and Transparency in Business Success 

In our pursuit of business success, we champion enhancing the human aspect. Anticipating that humanity and transparency would surpass capability and reliability in predicting behavior, we found initial validation in customer rankings. Humanity and transparency were deemed pivotal for purchase decisions and loyalty, yet real-world actions unveiled a discrepancy. While we aspire to favor more human brands, practicality often leads us to prioritize capable, reliable options. We acknowledge capability and reliability as essential entry points in the competition, especially for established market giants. Brands excelling in all four factors earn the coveted “trust winner” status, striving for human connection while maintaining competence.

Trust factor is the same among different Industries 

Varied Industry Insights Analyzing the humanity factor, industry-specific nuances emerged in trust drivers for workers:

Tech and Retail: Fostering engagement through organizational culture emerges as vital, aligning with the prevalence of superfan brands in retail and distinctive cultures in tech.

Healthcare: Prioritizing an employer’s societal and environmental contributions gains prominence, resonating with healthcare’s societal care role—particularly poignant during the pandemic’s frontline efforts.

Banking: Workers valuing an aligned purpose become significant, as consumer banks position themselves as community pillars safeguarding financial well-being, emphasizing the power of purpose.

Travel and Hospitality: Encouraging open idea sharing at work gains prominence due to the diverse stakeholders involved in delivering customer experiences, necessitating collaboration among frontline agents, branch managers, and franchise owners.

These insights underscore that trust manifests uniquely within each industry, necessitating tailored strategies to enhance organizational trustworthiness.

Trust Factor Variation Across Roles and Industries

 Diverse emphasis on the four trust factors emerged based on whether individuals are industry workers or customers. Distinct trends surface in the humanity factor for customers within specific sectors:

Technology: Esteeming a brand’s societal and environmental commitment is paramount. Tech’s societal influence and expectations for CEOs to address social issues underscore this.

Banking and Healthcare: Swift, empathetic customer support gains prominence, vital due to intricate payment and insurance concerns in these industries.

Travel, Hospitality, and Retail: Valuing inclusivity and respect regardless of background gains significance, reflecting these sectors’ experiential nature and diverse interactions.

Considering context is key for actionable trust metrics. People value attributes differently based on their role, industry, culture, and brand promise. This precision empowers organizations to enhance stakeholder trust strategically. Ultimately, investing in trust elevates experiences and outcomes for both customers and workers.

 (This is an edited Excerpt from “The Four Factors of Trust”, Deloitte)

Brands & Business Magazine


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