5 Ways Challenger Brands Can Start Building Trust

There’s never been a better time to highlight your trust than now.

In its 2021 report, Edelman described trust as the new brand equity.

“In the ‘80s, the legendary brand strategist David Aaker defined brand equity in terms of brand loyalty, awareness, associations and perceived quality,” says Edelman CEO Richard Edelman. “Now brands will need to operate at the intersection of culture, purpose and society. Brands need to be for the people, and guided by the people. Why? Because brand trust ranks higher than brand love.”

For Challenger Brands, that equity is heightened further. As businesses that have pledged to do good from the outset, their approach to trust is critical. Particularly after the events of the pandemic where, according to the report, 78% want to exert power on brands to make society better, brands have an unprecedented responsibility.

But what are some of the ways Challengers can start building trust today?

1. Do right by people 

The success of a Challenger Brand comes in the fact they’re inherently human. They’re driven by people who genuinely care and are, as a result, invested in causes that matter.

Part of being human is making mistakes. When your business slips up, own it. Put it out there that you’ve done something wrong and offer a solution that makes it right for your customers.

2. Honour your principles 

As a Challenger, you’ll have principles. It’ll be what drives your external business and internal management. It’ll be the driving force behind many of the choices you embark on and promises you deliver to customers.

Building trust comes with honouring those. Make sure your rhetoric aligns with your reality and that people can see you’re not resting on platitudes. If you’re publicly proclaiming to be customer obsessed, interrogate every touchpoint so that’s true. If you claim to be passionate about speaking up about social issues, make sure you do. State your cause, commit to it, and take actions to make a difference.

3. Celebrate your customers

Customers are the protagonists in your story, so make sure they feel as though they’re a part of it. Showcase their wins and experiences, feature them on your site, and tell their story.

User-generated content (UCG) is an excellent means to do that because it builds brands authentically, gives your audience a voice, and is a cost-effective way to diversify your social media content. You can read more about our advice on UGC here.

4. Go above and beyond 

Whether it’s including a handwritten note with your products, a dedicated email to celebrate customer birthdays or sending an employee lunch when they’re having a bad day, there are countless ways you can go above and beyond for both your customers and employees (remember, trust has to start internally).

Often, it’s the small details that make the biggest difference.

5. Take action on feedback 

Listening to feedback is only half the work. Acting on it is the other. You’ll need both to succeed. When it comes to finding customer feedback, take actions they would. Scour Google reviews, invest time in social listening, follow their paths to purchasing your products, and spend time on the front line with your customer service team. Don’t stop until you’ve collated both positive and negative feedback.

When you have it, put a plan in motion. Design a strategy that lets customers know you’ve heard their feedback, noted its importance, and start to come up with a step by step approach to fixing it.

5&Vine is a marketing agency for Challenger Brands. To explore more of our work, click here.


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