“Trust” is a term that is oft abused and diluted by advertising, sales people and political candidates – usually with some sort of phrase that begins with “Trust me …” or “Believe you me …”. Yet despite its over-use, “trust” is still a powerful word. Why?

Because people do inherently want to trust.

Herein lies a great branding opportunity: if you are truly trustworthy, your brand will grow faster than any other form of brand building or marketing. Trust is viral. Trust is an attractant. Trust is memorable. And trust never becomes obsolete.

Branding begins with leadership. Ergo, instilling trust begins with the leader(s) of an organization. Steven M.R. Covey says it best in his book “Speed of Trust”:

“The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility.”

The top indicator for a trustworthy leader is emotional intelligence (EQ). High EQ leaders are humble, self-and others-aware and open for feedback – all traits of trust building. This trust then begins to become part of the culture of a team or organization. It is self-policed – not through policies or procedures but by conversations and accountability.

Trust then begins to appear in the products and/or services produced by a brand. High standards, attention to detail and quality assurance are all factors in building trust into your offerings. Again, the “right way to do things” is a cultural standard not a manual. Trust also become an integral part of all human experiences. From new employee on-boarding to internal communications. To create creating consistent customer delight for current and new customers. It also extends out into the community with donations, service projects and more.  All of which reinforces and amplifies trust.

Finally we get to marketing. Let’s pause and consider this. Marketing used to be the main instrument for creating a perception of trust. It was the first thing you did as a brand.  Now marketing is the last thing you do if you are a trust-driven organization. So how does trust get translated into marketing? Here are few tips:

  1. Speak to the heart.  Everyone’s minds are full, so provide a message to their hearts. Plus, trust begins in the heart, not the mind.
  2. Use simple, declarative statements. People don’t have time for squishiness or messages of low nutritional value. Trust comes from speaking plainly and clearly.
  3. Tell stories. Not the stories of your organization, but stories of your employees, customers and influencers. These stories contain all of the ingredients to build trust.

Simply put, if you want to be a trustworthy brand, be a trustworthy person. Hire trustworthy people. Give your customers trustworthy value. And be a trustworthy neighbor in your community. The combination of these things – all built on trust – is like a perpetual motion machine for your brand. Producing value, innovation and relevance.

And trust me. I’m a branding guy. 🙂

 

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