Friday, December 18, 2015

The Trust Paradox and Trust Corollary


Brands that last – their journey is one looked upon with great veneration and admiration. Every day a new brand takes birth, but only a few endure the test of time. These brands are the names that have persisted through the sketchy terrain of trust, and managed to etch themselves into the very psyches of the consumer. This is what brands exist for – to last forever.

Several research studies have been conducted around the world with an aim to decode the complexities of brands that survive the length of time. With trust as the basis of every relationship, and the crux of all social engagement, it is inevitable that brands that last also garner a strong trust factor. Trust, which is a consequence of the intricate combination of several components, is not so easily understood. Yet, it can be learned over time, and like a well-trained athlete, brands can make the right moves without much reflection.

To measure Trust, we must know and measure its primary ingredients, aspects that will uniformly hold true across audiences, geographies, and cultures. Our proprietary Trust Matrix measures trust based on 61 attributes – providing a robust understanding of a brand’s trust factor.
The Trust Conference is not just an event but a long overdue conversation between the custodians of brand trust in India, and hopefully the beginning of an important experience.

The Trust Paradox and Trust Corollary

Just as we cannot ask for happiness and get it, one cannot ask to be trusted and get trust. In the trust context, this problem gets stated as the Trust Paradox. Brands that make blatant claims like “Most Trusted Brand” without any proof of trust being established can be termed careless communication at best. At its worst, such claims erode the very trust they are attempting to create.

If any business, entity, brand, or individual solely focuses on building trust, it will lose trust in the long run. The Trust Paradox implies that intense focus on Trust itself is self-defeating. Trust is achieved from a combination of the action, communication, perception, and being of the entity. When these are worked upon, Trust is derived as a natural outcome. The Trust Corollary, the axiomatic deduction from this paradox, helps find the primary ingredients of Trust. Due to the enquiry that arose consequently, we assigned researchers to investigate Trust further. It took more than two years and several hundred hours of interviewing psychologists, communication experts, and sociologists on the subject and at the end of the research, we painstakingly identified the primary ingredients of Trust.

The Ten Behaviors of Trust

Non-Threatening Ambience: The trust ambience is a necessary consideration for trust bonds to form. If the ambience is not seen as completely secure, then building trust becomes impossible. A comforting ambience through action and communication can demonstrate high awareness of the brand’s perceptions.
Display of Empathy: A trust-conducive environment can be created by displaying empathy. Empathy shows and reinforces an emotional connect between the brands and the target audience. An empathic brand is quick to perceive fresh opportunities with customers because of its close emotional connection with them.
Shared Interest: There should be mutual understanding and compatibility between the brand and the consumer. Common interest symbolizes cultural and social uniformity, which leads to higher chances of better engagement outcomes.
Demonstrated Sincerity: For a brand or an individual, display of sincerity has both social and personal implications. A brand that displays sincerity shows high ethical and moral values and integrity.
Corporate Altruism: When a brand acts beyond areas of self-benefit and works for a larger, socially beneficial cause, it is said to demonstrate corporate altruism. Corporate altruism is an important composite that organically builds a high trust-quotient for the brand.
Enthusiasm: To commensurately increase the chances of success, brands should show greater involvement and energy; it naturally holds an important position in building trust. Displayed enthusiasm also demonstrates the brand’s self-assurance and shows a greater degree of brand confidence in the result.
Outward Appearance: It is a natural indicator of achievement, success, and good content. Hence, this becomes an important determinant in the stakeholder’s perception. It is important for brands to not just look appealing but to also ‘look the part’.
Perceived Competence: Competence is the ability to achieve successful results by possessing experience, knowledge, and credentials. This composite is a standard in all introduction presentations of organizations, where establishing the perception of competence is an imperative to taking discussions forward.
Commanding Results: Commanding respect is the trait of a leader and it is not easy for a brand to decipher how or why one achieves it. A brand must not only be successful in its field to command respect, it should also have strength of personality.
Accepting Responsibility: The courage to accept failure is a primary component of a trusted relationship; brands should have professional poise, balance, and stand by its decision to accept its responsibilities.
Thus, Trust is a social-glue that brings stability to any relationship and balances its unstated terms of engagement. Trust impacts the behaviour and performance of businesses and brands in many intriguing ways. It creates the foundation of a strong ‘brand connect’ with all brands, converting simple awareness to strong commitment and helping metamorphose normal brands into devoted ambassadors. A brand’s strong relationships directly result in advantages like better acceptance, premium perception, and better reliability of brand extensions and even allowance of temporary quality deficiencies.

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