I often hear leaders say they want their brand to be about trust. They're looking in the right direction, but an important refinement is needed: what they actually want is for their brand to be trusted.
What's the difference between "about trust" and "trusted"?
Trust is not something you input to create an excellent brand; rather, it is the outcome of an excellent brand. In other words, any brand worth its salt is a trusted brand. We don't get to enjoy the fruits of a trusted relationship until we've earned trust.
When working with a client, I would never name "trust" as an element of a brand strategy. It's a given that we want our brand to be trusted. (Think of a brand that you don't trust. How loyal are you to that brand?)
How can my brand earn trust from our customers?
A great brand doesn't ask what the customer can do for me ("Trust me, customer!") – it asks what I can do for the customer. Only when I've kept my promises as a company, and consistently delighted my customer with my products and services, will the customer reward me with her trust.
How does this work in the real world?
Brands must be distinctive, and trust is part of all great brands. Let's look at a couple of outstanding examples in the auto industry.
- Mercedes is a stellar, well-established brand with a particular brand promise and personality.
- Mini is a (very different) stellar, well-established car brand with a particular brand promise and personality.
They are both trusted – not in order to be stellar brands, but because they are stellar brands. Mercedes owns a certain type of luxury that is their brand, and Mini owns a certain lifestyle and attitude that is their brand.
These two brand promises are very different, and delivered in a very different manner. They are both trusted – because they have earned their customers' trust.