Trust is the key to the brand management revolution

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Rebekah Mackay Miller of trnd.

As modern marketers, we know we'd be seriously underestimating the power of the consumer if we continue to simply broadcast our brand message as we once did, even if we do so via shiny new channels. Today’s consumers are savvy, better informed and more conscious of the choices they make than ever before.

The lure of smart phones as a distraction from commercial breaks and proliferation of ad-blocking technology means it’s easier than ever to shield oneself from un-wanted advertising, and proves that people just don’t want to be marketed at. Individuals, once passive consumers, are now becoming active partners in the marketing processes. And the opportunity for brands is huge.

Globally 84 percent of people trust peer-to-peer recommendations over any other form of advertising. Organic, offline word of mouth drives up to 200x more sales than one paid media impression. People place their greatest trust in each other, not faceless organisations. As the consumer’s role evolves, so must that of the brand manager and the brand itself.

Establishing trust with connected consumers

Modern brand management must adore the advocate, but people only become genuine advocates once they know they can trust the brand and its product. Their own reputation is on the line when they make a recommendation to others. They have to know that the brand won’t let them down.

So what are the new rules of engagement for marketers?

According to Dr Daan Muntinga, it’s time for brands to step down from the ivory tower. A strong brand is the sum of its words and deeds; it’s no longer sufficient to design an identity, brands must live and breathe it to earn the trust and respect of their consumers. In parallel, brands must also loosen the reigns and involve consumers; listen to their opinions, take their actions seriously and put their voice to good use. In other words, focus on earning and nurturing a long lasting trust between consumer and brand.

Brand + Consumer Collaboration = Future

The real opportunity for marketers is in identifying how to harness the power of their customers, and work with them at eye level, as co-marketers, to build the brands of the future. Erik Schoppen's Build Bridge Bond® methodology offers a basis for future brand management that places cultivating trust firmly centre stage.

Trust is supported in the model by three core pillars: promise (does the product do what we need it to), purpose (do brand values align with our own) and participation (what’s been our experience of the brand). These three pillars must all be in place, and working together, for a brand to maintain a good reputation. Meet expectations and trust will grow.

More crucial however, is acknowledging the role the consumer plays in bridging the gap between these pillars, and how their involvement and actions related to one, influence and inform the next. Get this sussed and your consumers will add value to your brand far beyond buying your products.

They’ll power your sales by generating hugely credible word of mouth, on and offline, at scale. They’ll produce authentic content, ensuring your brand story continues to be told in the real world and they’ll help you make better products and more informed decisions, because they’ll tell you exactly what they, the people buying the products, want to hear. This collaboration between brand and consumer, and the subsequent trust it cultivates, is the future of brand management.

For more practical advice on how to future proof and incorporate ‘Trust’ as a pillar of your brand management, download trnd’s free whitepaper 'How do marketers build brand trust?'

Rebekah Mackay Miller

Rebekah Mackay Miller is the UK managing director of trnd.

All by Rebekah