“Trust me, I’m a brand!” – Four ways brands can nail trust

Achieving trust is the holy grail for brands. Kantar Millward Brown’s BrandZ study  showed that over 10 years, brands with above average trust grew by 170%, whilst those with below average trust shrunk by 13%.   

Despite the clear benefits of brands driving trust, it seems that trusting a brand or company is becoming the exception rather than the norm as consumers have an increased sense of ‘us against them’. The Edelman Trust Barometer has shown that trust in businesses, the media and government has eroded over the last 5 years.

Only in the last couple of months we were bombarded with emails from companies asking for our permission to keep in touch. The introduction of the General Data Protection Act (GDPR) in May brought brand trust firmly into the spotlight. Throw in a bit of fake news, add some horsemeat to your beef burgers, sprinkle over a couple of data breaches, pay less tax than your gran and you’ve got the perfect recipe for mistrust.

A recent study conducted by Trinity McQueen showed 3 in 10 consumers claim not to trust any brand. So, what can brands do to build customer trust? Our study showed that the brands which do generate trust tend to display at least one of four key qualities:


1.       An ethical proposition

The likes of The Body Shop and The Co-op pin their brands on their ethical propositions. Customers who buy into these brands know they’re focused on ‘giving something back’ rather than just being in business to make a profit


2.       Great customer service

Price matching and fluid returns policies provide tangible customer service benefits. John Lewis is a shining example of a brand that has built trust through great customer service. If you buy something and you don’t like it, or if you have issues with it, you know the store will be on your side


3.       Fair pricing

Consumers don’t want to be bamboozled by offers and promotions. There’s nothing worse than expecting a customer to stand there for hours trying to work out whether it’s better value to use a 15% off deal or a ‘3 for 2’ offer. Promotions should to be clear and easy to understand. Better still, use a consistent, fair and honest price where shoppers know they are getting a good price and saving them the need to shopping around. Shoppers in Aldi and Lidl trust prices will be low, generating an easier shopping experience


4.       Consistent quality

Providing consistent quality doesn’t mean everything has to last for decades, but consumers want to be confident they are getting what they pay for. Consistency reassures shoppers they’re not going to be left with a dud product and will keep them coming back time and again. While not the most premium brand in the market Next continuously deliver the same standard of product, regardless of whether your buying for baby, your dad or something for your house.


We can split these factors into two different types of trust, transactional and emotional. Transactional trust relates to doing what you’ll say you will e.g. delivering my package on time or setting up my direct debit correctly. Emotional trust is about making me feel good about buying from you.  Hitting both is the sweet spot.

However, the overriding desire for consumers is to be looked after. While CSR initiatives, supporting the local community and ethical causes help position brands as giving something back, consumers want to know what’s in it for me. Despite numerous news articles detailing Amazon’s ‘creative accounting’ minimising its tax liability, it was rated the most trusted brand in our recent study. They consistently meet customer’s needs, deliver on time and resolve disputes quickly, thus building trust and making them an easy choice to buy from.

The friends and family I trust most are the ones I can rely on turn up on time for a pint, help me fix a leaking tap or lend me a few quid when I’ve no change for parking. They put my interests before their own. It is the same for brands.

Katie Grundy