Trust has always been and always will be crucial when it comes to brand marketing. Consumers make decisions every day about who to depend on with their money, information, and time. There’s much more on the line than your average trust fall.
Trust is especially invaluable now, as world crises have the power to completely shake customers’ confidence in people, governments, and brands.
In Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer report, 81% of consumers said they must be able to trust the brand to do what is right. However, every consumer will have a slightly different understanding of what “right” looks like to them.
For some, it may be most important that the company offers a quality product, protects consumer data, or has moral business practices. But the bottom line is, in this ever-increasing age of uncertainty, businesses will lose customers if they cannot establish the brand as trustworthy through effective communication.
Practicing excellent communication is always beneficial for building strong connections in personal relationships. Of course, it is more difficult to earn that level of trust with customers because direct interactions are often infrequent. Therefore, companies must master communication skills to successfully connect with their audiences through every touchpoint of their brands.
Here are four everyday communication skills brands need to repurpose to build trust:
Being authentic to who you are and knowing yourself are so important for solid communication. It is a thousand times easier for someone to trust you once they feel like they know you. And this is just as true for brands as it is for individuals.
You want to leave your audience with a strong impression of who you are. It is much more likely for consumers to remember and trust your brand if they have a sense of the company’s attitude and values.
Be very strategic in the tone of both images and words for brand marketing. Think about what you want your customers to feel when they see your brand’s colors and typography and consider the impact of your messaging. When these two components are clear in how they present your brand’s personality, it is much easier for customers to feel like they know you.
For example, the music streaming service Pandora originally started out with an upper-case font in dark blue, which felt mature and traditional. Its change to a rounder font in all lower-case and in a lighter shade of blue reflects a shift in the brand’s identity to appeal to a younger target audience. In 2016, the most recent change was to the single “P” filled with wavy lines in many bright colors. This logo aims to evoke images of the beach and summertime to associate the brand with fun.
In everyday life, we’re not going to trust someone who is two-faced or constantly changes their opinions. It’s confusing and makes it difficult to know what to expect.
For customers to trust your brand, it’s best to avoid that kind of inconsistency. According to Lucidpress’s 2019 report, The State of Brand Consistency, revenue increases by 33% when brands are consistent. Therefore, providing a parallel customer experience through your website, social media platforms, and customer service will benefit brand recognition, trust, and profit.
Develop style guidelines to ensure consistent brand marketing. To get started, ask your team:
- Is our mission statement clear and easy to communicate?
- How does our target audience connect with our mission statement?
- What five adjectives best describe the brand?
- What images come to mind when you think about the brand’s mission and personality?
- What do similar brands do that we like? What are some things they do that we should avoid?
Once these ideas are fleshed out, use them as inspiration to establish your brand logo, colors, values, and voice. Continue referring back to these brand marketing objectives as you create new content to make sure it aligns. You can also use guidelines like a checklist for each place customers interact with your brand to help your entire team ensure every point of content echoes your brand’s identity.
One of the most obvious communication skills (and yet somehow most difficult to master) is being an attentive listener. Paying attention to what someone is saying and finding small ways to demonstrate that you hear them goes a long way in building trust.
Spend time researching the values and trending topics of your target audience and adjust your content marketing strategy accordingly. Check out the platforms where your target audience spends most of their online time and pay attention to what popular media outlets with a similar audience are focusing on right now. Posts that are relevant to the ideas your consumers care about will both spark their interest and demonstrate that your brand sees and hears them.
Making a social impact is another way to turn active listening into action. Even before the crises of 2020, 53% of consumers in the Edelman report agreed that brands should be responsible for involvement in social issues. Brands that care about leaving a positive impact on the world, especially in areas valued by their target audiences, are more likely to gain trust.
DON’T be a robot
In conversations with other people, it is just plain awkward when the other person doesn’t show any emotion. Of course, the same applies to a company’s communication with its audience.
Customers trust and gravitate toward brands that express authentic human emotions. Genuine excitement and humor can go a long way, as does showing empathy. Throughout your brand marketing, use real-life situations that would be relatable for your target audience so they feel represented and respected by your brand.
Keep in mind, too, that sincerity is the key here. Brands that come across as opportunistic in times of crisis are likely to lose the trust of their customers. And, although consumers support brands getting involved in social issues, the Edelman report revealed that 56% are wary that too many use them as a marketing ploy.
Don’t expect brownie points for addressing issues, and avoid using them for a sell. It is GREAT when customers can trust your brand as a result of social service projects or appropriate statements in response to the state of the world. But raising awareness and executing your brand’s perception of “what is right” is far more important.