Do You Know Your Brand’s Trust Index?

What’s your brand’s Trust Index?  How does it measure up, in the minds of your prospects and existing customers, against your competition in terms of perceived trustworthiness?

It used to be a trick question, because until recently there wasn’t any such thing as an objective “Trust Index.”  Yes, there were plenty of polls and surveys out there to take the public’s temperature about who they trust, hour to hour, community by community, but no objective scale for trust, for authenticity.  But they’re what matter most in terms of how an audience relates to a brand.

Nowadays, there are agency and institutional examples of “trust indexes” that have sprung up in response to the power of social media and consumer word-of-mouth.  That’s because not knowing how well-trusted your brand is can be dangerous.  Even fatal.  

Image credit: Fabian Bimmer / Reuters
Image credit: Fabian Bimmer / Reuters

Take a look at Toyota‘s issues a few years ago, or VW’s recent problems to see just how quickly and precipitously a brand’s stature can tumble in the market’s eye. 

A lot of factors, many of them out of a brand’s control, can figure in creating a catastrophe of consumer perceptions. In Toyota’s case (and Audi’s, many years ago), the rap might be largely unfair — but they demonstrate just how fast mud can stick if you make a misstep, or fail to respond to it the right way. 

Volkswagen may recover in terms of U.S. sales, but there was a luster, a sheen of Germanic engineering exceptionalism, that’s now gone forever. 

Today, in consumers’ minds they’re just another car company that makes the occasional bonehead mistake…or, worse, intentionally deceives its customers.

Brand trust: Easier to retain than recapture

Would knowing how they were regarded in the mind of consumer have made a difference in all this?  Maybe.  They might have held themselves to a higher standard in how they handled the entire “unintended acceleration” affair — avoided some of its shrapnel.

For any marketer, including B2B marketers, understanding how you’re perceived in the mind of your audience is a good thing.  The news might be bad sometimes — but knowing it is half the solution.

In an era where word-of-mouth and influencer referrals far outstrip advertising and promotion in terms of establishing brand authenticity, if you’re not gauging those perceptions right now, you’re asking for trouble.

Neglecting these insights can be a missed opportunity to improve your image — and bottom line.

It’s incredibly easy to find out what those perceptions are, too.  How? Well…ask.

Whether it’s a conversation across a conference table or in a purchasing office, or whether you’re using a more formal brand audit or a survey tool to get more qualified or quantified results, they’re direct and straightforward ways to get the lowdown on how your best customers regard you.  And if there’s an account or a market you just haven’t been able to crack, then doing this groundwork is even more valuable.

Even if you think you’ve got an excellent handle on their perceptions, the best advice you can give yourself is to never believe your own assumptions.  It can lead you down the wrong path — or even cause you to miss out on leveraging positive perceptions you might never have known existed, perceptions that could open new opportunities.

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