Brand strategy triggers come from the strangest of places.  I started watching The Invention of Lying because Netflix promised me it was real popular. They wouldn’t lie about it, right? Surely it wasn’t to get me to spend more time on their platform watching a 2009 movie that I hadn’t heard of?

The movie builds on the premise of a world where nobody can lie or make up stories.  For example, it shows a Coke ad droning about how you should drink it because, “they’ve been around”. And a Pepsi ad which says it’s for when Coke isn’t around.

Ten minutes into the movie you realize how much we take white lies and “truth avoidance” for granted. It says a lot about the human race that we are so used to lying that a world where it does not happen is the subject of a comedy.  So does it make sense to make Trust a key brand value?

Is your brand trustworthy? Does your brand strategy include trust?

Earlier this week I did the first part of a workshop on Persuasive Communications for a large MNC. One of the exercises was to identify the company based on this boilerplate “‘To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally, through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust’. Everyone got the answer right! It is the Tata Group.

Wouldn’t every brand want to be trusted?

Top 5 Marketing Priorities 2020-min

A recent study on State of Marketing 2020 by Salesforce listed Trust as amongst the top 5 marketing priorities.

Yet, not many consciously aim to be the ‘most trusted’ in their category. If you are buying a category for the first time, you would want to trust that brand. If you are feeding your children something, you would want to trust that product. Choosing a software product? Need to trust them to not steal your data. Educational course? Trust that it will actually get my kid that job in Google, like it did Wolf Gupta.

In the online world trust matters even more

Many of the cues that we have relied upon in the physical world are not valid online. For example, banks invest in fancy looking branches to convey that they could be trusted to hang on to your money. Stores allow physical inspection of food grains. The milkman who brings his cow around and milk at your gate. IT clients like to visit their suppliers to meet the people who will create their solutions.  The car mechanic who fixes your car while you wait.  The jeweller who weights your gold in front of you.

How to build a heritage of trust even if you are not Tata, or Mahindra, or Godrej.

In this context I found P C Musthafa of ID Foods’ “Trust Stories” really cool. Unlike most food companies that pursue positions like freshness, natural, authenticity, or organic, he has chosen Trust. It is definitely a part of the company’s brand strategy.  And he’s putting his money where his mouth is, running “Trust Shops” in apartments and now doing trust-based deliveries to RWAs. These function like the ‘honesty shops’ we had at school where you are trusted to put money for what you have purchased in a box. ID is also planning to host videos of their manufacturing facilities as physical visits by customers are no longer possible.

What are the proxies for Trust?

3rd party endorsements by a trusted authority are one. So if you can get certifications, or a professional expert to testify for you, or win awards along your chosen attributes it helps a lot. Social proof ie your peer group being happy with that product or service is great too. And lastly all opportunities to be transparent, to prove that you have nothing to hide.

Check out the 6 Pillars of Persuasion in this article.

Does Brand Trust improve profits and growth?

Of course. We know that instinctively we would prefer to go with a brand or person we trust. And we are trusted we must be really careful about how and where we apply it.

Patanjali’s doodh biscuits have just overtaken Horlicks biscuits. There are many factors, but trust in Patanjali is undoubtedly one of them.

So think hard about how you are building trust in your company and in yourself as an individual.  If you don’t have it as a brand value consider putting it in.


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