Five core habits of credible, trusted brands

By Laura Larsen on May 5th, 2017

It takes months to years to build a credible brand and just minutes to tear it down.

According to a recent AdWeek article, “brands that forge strong relationships and build trust with their customers earn their loyalty for life.” This is only partly true. Across the healthcare and financial industries, consumers are more demanding and empowered than ever before. Consumers have the ability to change brands at the flip of a switch, whether it’s their bank, physician or insurer. In other words, brand loyalty isn’t necessarily “for life.” Millennials not only take pride in their own brand choices, but know it represents who they are as an individual. It’s not just a personal matter, it’s about public perception and preservation particularly in a social media-driven world.

There is a lot to be learned from a small group of companies that have exemplified strong brand credibility in recent months. To name just a few, UnitedHealth Group recently became Brand Finance’s most valuable US-based healthcare brand in 2017. In the company’s quarterly earnings call, chief executive officer Stephen Hemsley reportedly attributed strong first quarter growth to the company’s “focus on quality and consistency.” Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson achieved number one most trustworthy brand in Forbes’ 2016 list due to great corporate social responsibility initiatives, a strong portfolio of reliable products and its family legacy brand.

So what can be learned from these companies and how can you achieve and maintain your own brand credibility? Here are a few key considerations:

Think “customers first”: Your customer is your number one champion. If you have the opportunity to build an emotional relationship and take a public stance on something that truly matters to them, it will go a long way.

Deliver, deliver, deliver: Always deliver high-quality goods, products and services. Back up your brand promises with measurable deliverables and provide evidence that you can deliver on expected results.

Be honest and consistent: Always be transparent, own up to your mistakes and be ready to heal small wounds quickly and large wounds cautiously. Deliver consistent messages from the top to bottom of your organization.

Work from the inside out: Build employee advocacy, trust and camaraderie, and be sure to communicate the same values internally and externally. According to a recent Fortune article, “finance companies that demonstrate their commitment to doing right by their clients and employees by leading with integrity are seeing big financial rewards in the marketplace.”

Make your first impression count: All brand touchpoints must be consistent and on-message, from your sales representatives to your website. Gaining trust at this first port of call is extremely valuable and harder to achieve further down the line.

Once you’ve established a credible brand, do everything in your power to maintain it. A recent financial services trust report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers noted that people “want to interact with institutions they trust, and reputational damage over the long term can be far more costly than punitive fines."

Now is the time to ask yourself: What could you be doing to better maintain your own brand’s credibility?

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