Guest post: How sticking to your brand promise builds trust
This was contributed by Aline Liu, Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Strategy at Ricoh.
Imagine that you are in the process of getting to know a new friend but every time you see him/her, he/she has a different look, says something different about himself/herself and has a different story to tell? I bet “trustful” would not make the list of adjectives you would choose to describe this new acquaintance.
As we all know, building trust takes time and effort and is established when expectations are met consistently over and over again, in different situations.
In business, trust comes in part with the continuing positive experience your customers have with different brand touchpoints, online and offline. The experience, in turn, becomes your brand. So it is important to ask yourself: Can customers recognize your brand? Do you always look the same and speak the same language? Do you tell the same story? Do you deliver on your brand promise every single time?
It’s not easy, but it is possible to create great relationships and become a trusted business partner if we focus on what is really important:
- Know who you are. Live your brand values and share the importance of knowing your DNA. Simplify your story and make sure your employees know how to share it. Invest in employee education and advocacy programs, but lead by example and don’t miss opportunities to show that you stand by your brand values.
- Ask questions and listen. Create and leverage channels where it is easier for potential and current customers to share feedback and reviews. Ask questions, listen to what they have to say, understand, analyze and improve.
- Be generous. Be honest and transparent, but also be generous. Share knowledge and help educating vendors, partners, prospects and customers in areas you have expertise. Share innovative ideas, trends and tips to improve their business. Create opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
- Deliver your brand promise. And do it faithfully. It starts from the inside out, with employees that not only share your values and culture, but your vision. Investing in employee engagement programs, creating process and spaces where they can provide feedback and ideas to improve initiatives goes a long way when they are on the front-line representing your brand.
Your brand is not what or who you say you are, it is what potential and current customers think you are based on how much their expectations are met and the experience they have every single time they interact with your company.
In the end, we trust those who we know the most and who haven’t disappointed us. We trust family and friends and those who support us. For brands, it means that “star rating” marketing is here to stay. Online reviews from customers, community and peers are becoming not only the proof of how much you keep your brand promise, but also how deserving you are of being introduced to new partners.