Reputation: An expectation of trust

Do you know how your customers perceive you?

Do you know how your customers perceive you?

Reputation: An expectation of trust

Do you know how your customers perceive you?

The reputation of a brand is a building block in gaining customer trust.  As noted in our post on How do you build brand trust, brand reputation is one of three elements essential in trust management.  Reputation is the trustworthiness, integrity, and honesty people hold toward the brand; it is the expectation of your character and actions.  Your brand reputation lives in the minds of those you serve, and those you hope to serve, as noted by Seth Godin  “Reputation is what people expect us to do next.”

The importance of reputation is demonstrated by several prominent studies and rankings that search for the best and worst of brands: Fortune’s “Most Admired” list, Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands” ranking, and the Reputation Institute’s Global RepTrak 100. These well-known rankings are evidence that brands with solid reputations have financial and competitive advantages as well as retain greater stability.

Brand reputation is one of three factors that affect trust in a brand. Brands with high-trust are more profitable, see higher levels of customer satisfaction, have higher employee engagement, and more. Trusted brands influence customer choice and create loyalty; attract, retain, and motivate talent; and lower the cost of performing business.

Consumers acquire perceptions about a brand over time, forming either positive or negative associations of the brand from their own experiences with the brand, as well as what they have heard from other people. As this indicates, your brand reputation already exists in the minds of those you seek to influence.  Often brand managers believe that the marketing messages or brand positions they have crafted are what sits in the minds of their audience.  However, in the case of reputation, these are perceptions people already hold about the brand, and often these perceptions have been formed in the absence of brand management.

One realm in which brand reputation lives is social media, where people view and seek out the opinions of others. With social media, consumers can react to an experience immediately, often impulsively. The impact can be devastating for a brand. Take the airline industry, for example. Passengers post pictures or videos that go viral and become a media frenzy that cost the airlines time and money to handle. However, it is their reputation that takes the biggest hit. It can take years to build your reputation but can take only a minute to destroy it. We have witnessed this happen to many successful people and brands over the years, reminding us that we do not have complete control of our reputation.

 When someone is deciding to purchase a brand product, he or she will seek out information to reduce uncertainty about the decision.  When searching for information, the potential customer is scanning the environment to determine the level and type of risks they should be aware of as they consider a product purchase.  It is here, at the intersection of what people believe about a brand and what they learn from others, that brand reputation is formed.  Want to know if customers will trust you?  Go to these brand intersections to understand not only what other people think of your brand, but what is most important to the customer when they are determining reputation.

 Do you know if you have a poor or excellent reputation? If not, do an inventory of your brand. What are people saying about you? What kind of reviews do customers give you? What impact does your brand reputation have on the trust people have in your product or service?  As a starting point, take a few minutes to see how brands in different product categories performed in our 2018 America’s Most Trusted study in which we rank the trust of brands in home building, kitchen appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, laundry appliances, residential brokerages, active adult resort builders, faucets, and household paints. If you are a brand operating in one of these categories, or a brand interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the trust held by your customers, reach out to Lifestory Research to discover how customers rate your reputation and what, if anything, you need to do to improve perceptions.

 Lifestory will be publishing the most recent results of the America’s Most Trusted study in January 2019.  In addition to the brand categories noted above, the study this upcoming year will also include brands within the product verticals of windows, vacuums, mattress beds, computers, as well as other brand categories.


This Article is About:

  • How to build brand trust

  • Building brand reputation with customers

  • Customer trust marketing research

  • America’s Most Trusted brands

Eric Snider