Here’s a riddle for you – one of those things designed to tease and get you thinking …

You can feel it in your gut, but it’s nothing to do with food. You can’t always explain it, sometimes you just know instinctively who has it and who hasn’t. It’s hard to gain and easy to lose. It can take a lifetime to build but be lost in a heartbeat.

Any ideas? OK here’s the clincher: Without it, brands can’t generate customer satisfaction OR loyalty.

We’re talking about trust.

While customer satisfaction and loyalty get more buzz, trust lies at the heart of customers’ relationship with brands. Without it, consumers aren’t likely to interact with your content or make a purchase.

The Desmond Morris bit:


The Triune Brain

The oldest part of the brain originated when we were reptiles and was focused on the ‘fight or flee’ instinct. It remains an instinctive response and one which is very difficult for other parts of the brain, particularly those where rational thought develops to control.

Why is trust something that is intuitive? It is a binary response when you think about it – you either trust somebody or you don’t – you can’t trust something a little, because it doesn’t mean anything.

However, trust is difficult to develop and sustain. Consumers use many factors to assess whether a brand is trustworthy, from the aesthetics of a brand’s website to their interactions with the customer service department, or whether it was a part of their formative years. Relationships with brands are formed over time and layered with emotional responses to interactions with the brand. The connectivity between Cerebellum and Limbic System is incredibly fast!

At The Buzzz we believe that trust in brands is going to become a key point of difference over the next 4-5 years.

Why? Let’s look back at our time moving through recession to recovery and remind ourselves of the things we have lost trust in:

  • Banks and Financial Institutions – Global Financial Crisis and subsequent huge compensation for miss-selling or cheating
  • Politicians – not disclosing the full extent of the crisis in the first place and subsequent expenses scandals. We may seldom expect politicians to keep promises but the expenses scandal went much deeper
  • Newspapers – phone hacking and scams to catch out some of those people referred to above!
  • Supermarkets – food scandal; disclosures over the way suppliers are treated and the constant focus on prices and profit
  • Utilities – market manipulation over price and the difference between wholesale and retail pricing – huge profits and rising costs
  • Multi-national brands who manage their financial affairs to avoid paying tax
  • Car Manufacturers who are exposed for faults and manipulating and misleading on fuel consumption figures

The list over the last 8 years or so is quite astonishing when you stop to think about it.

The impact on consumers?

  • cynicism over any corporate or marketing claims;
  • a move to the ‘good guys who are on my side’ (Aldi / Lidl; Air BnB; Uber, Branded Grocery products and locally sourced food; small pop-up offers and ‘have a go start ups’ (Kickstarter))
  • much stronger response when a consumer feels betrayed or distrust creeps in (; Facebook campaigns etc; Parliamentary Select committee investigations; Regulatory bodies imposing significant penalties)
  • Strengthening of emotional response around trusted brands – a rich territory for engagement

So if you are involved in brand marketing or development, you should already be thinking about how to build trust; demonstrate trust, underline not undermine trust and to be successful in any of these aims you should be looking carefully at the way you measure trust. You cannot unpick things if trust starts to unravel, you have to determine your measurement around parameters which will be sensitive enough to detect changes in the intuitive responses consumers have to your brand.

We will talk more about this in our next blog. (This is the first in a series of blogs on Brand Trust: a new marketing currency)