• brucemckinnon

In Brand We Trust




Trust is in short supply these days, so it struck me as interesting that the recently published 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer told us that the world of business is more trusted by consumers than the media, NGO’s and governments. Furthermore, of those institutions, business is seen as managing to be both ethical and competent. This is heady stuff, and for a deeper dive do have a look at their excellent report - there is a link at the end of this blog[1].


Most often, people engage with business through experiencing the brands those businesses own. If the brand keeps delivering consistently, then customers are very likely to grow in their trust of the brand and continue to buy it - even if it’s more expensive than competitors. So, trust is a very valuable asset for a brand and, as the saying goes, trust is built not bought.


Defining your brand values will be the first step to building trust with your clients. Brand values simply describe the character of a business – how it behaves, how it treats its staff, the tone it uses in communications, how it presents itself to the world, and the products or services that it produces.


For your team, brand values can be used both as a source of inspiration and guidance when developing new products, campaigns, or company policies. Values enable the team to sense-check whether their resulting work reflects the brand values, acting like a benchmark for the brand to live up to.


For your customers, a consistent experience of the values of the product, its messaging, and how the brand behaves will create a willingness to keep engaging with the brand, but it will also ensure the brand is ‘seen’ by its customer amongst the thousands of messages from other brands


So how do you generate brand values, or if you already have brand values, how do you make sure they are the right ones?


First up, spend some time exploring what things go really well in your organization, and try to capture the reasons you think they do. Look at your materials and ask yourself what values they are projecting, have a look at your products and services, and make a note of the values they embody. It’s also a good idea to ask your customers and suppliers what they think.


Very importantly, look also at what doesn’t work so well and ask yourself what values you would need to adopt to deal with those issues (what I call antidote values).


You will probably end up with a long list of potential values, and so, the next step is to look at clustering the responses into themes and then name the themes. For example, if there are a lot of responses around speed of delivery, fast response to customer queries, efficiencies in internal systems, you might cluster these around the word effectiveness.


I have found that six values are usually enough to provide a great sense of the character of your brand, and as a final step, use the words in each of your value ‘clusters’ to write a sentence about each value to give a deeper sense of what that value stands for. This is important because it takes away any guesswork about the specific use of each value and how it relates to your brand.


Of course, writing down a set of values will not make your brand trustworthy; this comes when your values are put to work in driving how the brand is created by your team and experienced by your customers.


Want to learn more about defining your values? Book a free Brand Arrow® Taster workshop or watch my brand strategy videos.


You can, by the way, read more about the role values play in a brand by reading my award-winning book‘What’s Your Point?that can be purchased from Amazon. The book explores how brand strategy can fuel business growth, referencing some of the world’s most successful brands as well as sharing case studies from his own global consulting practice. You can work with Bruce in a number of ways, from mentoring to one-day workshops to consultancy, to find out more click here


[1] 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. Available at: https://www.edelman.com/trust/2021-trust-barometer. (Accessed: 05 January 2022)

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