Building Trust in 2020 is an Imperative | Brandmark Studios

Hitting The Mark

Trust is declining. In 2020, attitudes toward the media, corporate leaders, NGOs, and the government have become increasingly negative, and more than 50% of the mass population is losing its trust in these institutions. According to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer, attitudes depend on demographics-- on whether you are wealthier, more educated, and informed by the news. Edelman’s report, which was released in January before the pandemic and pre-Black Lives Matter protests, and subsequent widening gap between the haves and have-nots it is still relevant on many fronts.

With the unprecedented spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus, and civil unrest in the streets, growing unemployment and financial concerns of many, it’s a strong wake-up call for brands to take INTENTIONAL steps toward building trust with their audiences.

People Buy From People They Trust

People remember being treated well

Mark Cuban shared his thoughts recently on a CNBC’s “Market in Turmoil” special. He emphasized that how businesses take care of employees and stakeholders during this time of crisis is a business issue that will define their ‘brand for decades’. He noted that the attitudes of the Gen Z and Millennial generations will be particularly influenced by recent events and how large organizations responded to them. Cuban vowed, for example, to pay regular wages to his hourly workers, including cooks and cleaners, who are impacted by the suspension of NBA games. These actions will engender loyalty, trust, and positivity toward the company long after the virus environment subsides.

Trust in a brand can be deeply impacted with one tweet

CrossFit founder Greg Glassman’s recent, poorly crafted tweet in response to a tweet about racism being a public health issue very quickly led Reebok and athletes to cut ties with CrossFit. Even though Glassman later apologized for the mistake and error in judgment, his thoughtless tweet was damaging to the company and the CrossFit brand. Brands must be continuously sensitive and choose words carefully.

This is a challenging time, but it is also a real opportunity

Businesses that build trust during crises can make a real difference and generate long-standing loyalty with employees, brand partners, business pipelines and with each other.

What is the best approach? What is important to people and employees now?

  • Deliver on promises. Offer reliable products and strong customer service to meet the needs of what customers are looking for. Develop a short-term and a long-term strategy.
  • Be ethical. Do the right thing and be seen doing it. Show honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity to build trust and earn employee loyalty and respect. Once lost, this trust is hard to regain. During the current Covid-19 crisis, some employers are taking care of their people through paid leave and by maintaining healthcare insurance plans. After the crisis, these types of “caring” actions will be long remembered.
  • Be a partner. People care about tackling and solving problems facing the world. Embrace partnerships and collaborations with organizations and NGOs working on tackling societal issues. Offer a “social good” aspect to your menu of products or services.
  • Value employees. Do not let your employees be left behind - help retrain them to be ready for the gig economy and gain the competence they need to succeed. Invest in your team for long term results.
  • Cooperation. Work together, not in competition. The emerging millennial workforce leans strongly toward collaborative culture building, working towards a common goal, and being part of a community. A divisive or “me versus you” mentality runs counter to their DNA.
  • What can you do online to help your brand and business right now?

  • Stay on-brand. Provide valuable, reliable content about your brand and business – be consistent with brand messaging to “weather the storm”.
  • Social media. Use social media for two-way conversations and dialoguing with people -- creating and providing a venue for the social connection we all need now.
  • Encourage user-generated content. Ask for written reviews and videos. Millennials, who trust peer recommendation more than any other group, also share more content than any other group.
  • Host live video events or webinars. Hosting live events is even more important during the physical distancing happening during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Share trustworthy links. Sharing trustworthy links can increase click-through rate. People fear being sent to a non-trustworthy or a malicious site, or to an author who is a poor curator of content. Include an image, headline, and prove why someone should consider clicking through.
  • Act responsibly. Respond to society’s growing sense of injustice, inequality, and the desire for change.
  • Targeted strategies and communications that seek to build trust and loyalty are an imperative during challenging times. Brandmark Studios’ strategic professionals work with clients to developing strong and well-crafted messaging that helps build trust and brand visibility for the long term. Contact us today for a free consultation.