06.01.2012 | Sarah Bohannon
What do Coca-Cola, Apple, FedEx, Target, Amazon and Southwest Airlines all have in common (besides being incredibly successful companies)? According to Entrepreneur magazine, they are examples of the top 10 most trusted brands in America.
In its April 2012 cover story, Secrets of the 10 Most-Trusted Brands, Entrepreneur partnered with The Values Institute, a Virginia-based think tank, to examine why some brands rise above others. After surveying 1,000 Entrepreneur subscribers and the general public to rate particular American brands on the basis of five values that instill trust—ability, concern, connection, consistency and sincerity—results indicate today’s most trustworthy brands have fostered emotional relationships with consumer through “experiences that trigger a visceral response.” How did these firms develop that sense of trustworthiness over others?
Here at Communiqué PR, we think this article is a great reminder of how to build a trusted brand within the scope of PR. We examined the five key values used to measure the trustworthiness of brands and developed recommendations on how to incorporate these values into strategies and messaging:
Ability: Your company’s ability to provide a reliable product or service can make your name recognizable and trustworthy. FedEx received the strongest ratings in ability for “specifically being able to achieve what it promises and for efficiency of its operations.” Although shipping and handling is a crowded market, the firm utilized its knowledge of category norms and competitor tactics to redirect an agenda specifically catered to their company mission statement, “Whatever It Takes.” FedEx’s dependable performance has lived up to this promise and fostered a strong corporate identity. Think about how your messaging positions your company as a market leader and differentiates your brand from the competition.
Concern: How are you considering your customers’ needs? When a corporation applies its core capabilities to advance customer service, while simultaneously contributing to business results, it has a competitive advantage. For instance, Amazon.com is in a league of its own for creating a superior online shopping experience. Customers can have user profiles, tracking not only their purchases, but also their tastes and preferences. Although the multiplicity of products may seem overbearing, Amazon helps shoppers make decisions through user reviews, ratings, customer favorites and suggested purchases. Consumers like to be taken care of, and merchandise catered directly to customer desire offers both emotional and functional value. Consider how your company shows concern for customer needs and be sure to showcase these qualities in your PR activities.
Connection: If customers feel a connection with a brand, they are more likely to spread their positive feelings through word of mouth or testimonials. How are you sharing customer success stories? In every PR endeavor, including observable success stories boosts brand credibility. Consumers are more likely to trust a brand when they understand how your products and services solve a broader business problem for a company similar to their own. Whether in a news story, physical store location, or your company website, include a section to highlight case studies or positive quotes from happy customers. The customer voice is a powerful third-party force for generating future sales.
Consistency: Maintain a steady drumbeat of PR activity. This means not only a consistent brand message and identity, but also announcing achievements with products or services on a relatively regular schedule. Sustaining buzz-worthy product launches, upgrades or awards increases the perceived dependability of your offerings. Brad VanAuken, chief brand strategist for The Blake Project consultancy, states, “Once you have developed a unique and compelling value proposition for your brand, repeat it again and again.”
Sincerity: Preserving transparency with customers helps build brand confidence. Make sure to not only be open and honest about your product, but helpful as well. Apple stores do a great job of bridging the gap between technology and human sentiment through their on-site specialists, Genius Bar “Geniuses,” who provide hands-on technical support, and complimentary one-on-one workshops about products. The empathetic staff strives to show clients the Apple brand philosophy and innovation rather than sell you. In PR, sincerity is essential, especially during a crisis situation. If a problem or bug with a product is discovered, address the issue directly and then be sure to explain how you will solve the problem. Remember, consumers are humans too and appreciate an honest, personal touch.
Keeping these values of trust in mind while developing PR strategy can help ensure your PR strategies are building a sense of trustworthiness around your brand. What values have you found helpful in building your brand’s PR strategies?