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Lessons in brand trust

By Andrew Dalglish -

I recently stumbled across the Reader’s Digest survey of Britain’s most trusted brands.  One finding jumped out at me.  The most trustworthy margarine is Flora.  “I’ve never trusted a margarine” I thought.  “I trust my doctor, my friends, my local policeman; not a margarine”.  But the idea got me thinking.

I do trust brands that I’m familiar with, that are of a consistently high quality and live up to their promises.  This trust represents a useful shorthand for the best choice in a world of increasing complexity.  So on reflection I decided that I do indeed trust a margarine.  I’m also willing to admit that I trust a condiment (Heinz), a toothpaste (Colgate) and a toilet paper (Andrex).

Brand trust is arguably of greater importance in a B2B context because purchase decisions are often higher risk.  Their value can be significant, the choice can be ‘mission critical’ and the decision may come under scrutiny.  In risky situations like this, buyers herd around those they trust.  For a supplier to B2B markets then, developing trust is essential.  The strongest B2B brands ensure they deliver their brand promise, on every occasion at every touchpoint.  But more than this.  The most respected brands display six other hallmarks in their brand promise:

  • It’s relevant to a real need and offers a clear benefit
  • It’s unique.  Having a relevant promise is not enough.  It needs to set the brand apart and provide it with ownership of a particular space in the buyer’s mind
  • It’s based on a deep understanding of the customer and competitors.  A brand can’t be relevant, unique and appealing unless there is a clear understanding of what this actually means.  The owner of a strong brand views research insights as fundamental
  • It appeals to the rational and the emotional.  Let’s not forget that organisations don’t sell to organisations.  People sell to people
  • It’s clearly and consistently articulated.  Failure to do so will simply spread distrust and confusion
  • It’s in a state of constant evolution.  A strong brand evolves to ensure that their promise continues to remain relevant in an ever changing and increasingly competitive world

Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) brand perceptions research.

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