Why are there so many brands that seem more desirable or are the go-to choice of consumers? Why do audiences believe some influencers and news anchors (for the older generation) more than others? What are the reasons that one feels safer with certain service providers than others?
The answer is simple — TRUST!
Once a brand earns the trust of its users and audiences, it builds a long-lasting relationship with them. If each company mounts a poster of the Warren Buffet message on how it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it, they will do things differently, indeed. Brands like Nike, Ford, and McDonald’s have had their share of backlash. Although the Nike brand was desirable, its reputation suffered when the market learned about its sweatshops in Asia. McDonald’s had to deal with the massive eating disorders in the USA. However, these brands listened and took the bull by its horn. They rebuilt their brand values and created new strategies and production lines to regain the trust of their clients. Today, they are not only offering improved quality products, but also leading the markets with their value-based visions, and their communications demonstrate healthy, caring, and engaged brands. It’s like Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz once said, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
Gaining that trust is hard work and maintaining it is even harder. In this day and age where any consumer becomes a voice for quality control of any product or brand, companies have been focused on not disappointing them with poor design, taste, feel, or post-sale service. For a long time —long before Covid — the airline industry was experiencing intense competition to ensure the best service, comfort and security at affordable prices. The post-pandemic reality is different, it seems that many of the same airlines have reduced their on-flight services, removed most of the amenities and customer service agents (replacing them with chat bots), and inflated prices like never before. One of the reasons is that the airlines’ competitiveness is more intense, but purely for survival, given that many have gone out of business. The second is that airlines, like many other companies, must restructure, since a new travel formula seems to be evolving due to the global energy crisis. To maintain the trust of the traveler, airlines now offer add-on paid services that allow more flexibility and options. This formula resonates with many segments, from business class to basic economy travelers that pay less for ticket-only options, for instance.
Regardless of industry, more companies are now focusing on safeguarding and nurturing their reputation. Much effort goes into communicating the brand story that seems to resonate effectively with the more engaged Gen Z. A trusted brand is also consistent in its strategic communications. Careful positioning, cautious branding, and a sensitive advertising approach are all crafted to preempt any possible reputational damage. From ensuring that cosmetics are not tested on animals to showcasing a variety of types of families in the adverts to using less environmentally hazardous material, brands have become the mirror of social norms. And in doing so, they earned the warranted reputation and trust of the public.
As the founder of DeeM, I have funneled my energy into building the trustworthy reputation of the agency to become not only the trusted partner of clients, but also a responsible company that delivers sustainable, creative, and quality service to society. For close to 17 years in the market, the agency has been active in its networks, providing new thoughts and pushing the agenda for high-end communications. For instance, the four-year running PR Summit Armenia conference allowed hundreds of practitioners and academics to build that industry in Armenia with mutual respect and clarity. This year, we spearheaded yet another conference that has the potential to pave new grounds for strategic communications – Generation N. We brought together local and international communications and tech industry professionals to discuss and connect the missing dots between these highly interrelated sectors. Such platforms offer space to expand our thinking and create new, hopeful, and alternative paths to success. In doing so, our agency becomes a trustworthy partner for anyone seeking its services.
In one of his publications, Suresh Raj from Vice Communications talks about how brands should also trust the power and voice of emerging creators: “It requires the brand to place their trust in the authentic voice and style of these creators because it’s ultimately about the communities that surround them.” Suresh was recently in Yerevan as the Keynote Speaker at the Generation N conference. The event was held at the Ararat Yerevan Brandy Company, with a dozen speakers and close to a hundred decision-makers, mostly from the tech sector, sharing thoughts on current issues within the business, communications, and technology.
Technology is a catalyst for the shift in commerce and societal behavior. It’s the immediacy of online engagement that creates the illusion of openness and customized interaction by using bots and AI. This false trust-building is temporary, as consumers are savvier today and they understand that the initial flattering responses are unauthentic in nature. A brand can and should use any kind of tool to reach its target audience, the ones that become loyal followers. Many seem to use content creators that speak the truth and resonate best with their communities. These voices are true and to the point. They garner trust and have a wider reach than traditional TV or Billboard ads. This is how trust is built between the brand and the consumer, and ultimately the community.
Creator օf Dreams
DeeMmag, December 2022