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The art and science of building b2b brand trust

  • by Ann Rimmer
  • 1st Aug 2017
    • Brand Creation, Branding, Employee Engagement, Strategy

A key element of successful branding in b2b is the ability to build and sustain ‘trust’. Your customers, prospects, employees and wider business stakeholders will always look to build a picture of trust before they engage with you. As is widely reported in the b2b world, buyers are on average 78% of the way through the buying process before they even contact you. And their pre-selection process will involve them looking for trust cues and reasons to believe in your brand before deciding to shortlist your company.

Equally, an existing customer who has worked with you for many years can vanish overnight if trust is lost or never truly established. When something goes wrong, as long as the customer still trusts the people within your business to resolve it, with brand trust building over time,  it can be the most valuable tool your business can have. So how can you achieve brand trust?

Start with your why

Understand why your brand does what it does, what drives the business to deliver the products or services it does, why do you exist? What is at the heart of the way you operate? Why does this matter to your customers? I recommend watching Simon Sinek’s video to help frame what you’re trying to do here.

Why is this relevant to building trust? Because it should underpin your brand promise, your values and therefore give your brand a clear customer offer, whilst capturing the character of how your brand operates. This enables prospects to quickly assess if your brand is the right fit for them, both rationally and emotionally. If you don’t appear to share the same intrinsic values then it’s likely they’ll be looking elsewhere.

Clearly set out your brand promise

Always be clear on what you are promising to customers and deliver it. This should help you know how to deal with any issues that may arise too and give the whole organisation a consistent way of operating.  Remember they are your promises, so if you say you manage the complete project end-to-end for example, and a sub-contractor lets you down on one element of the project, then you have to take responsibility for sorting that out, with minimum disruption to the customer. The customer simply won’t be interested in the responsibility of the sub-contractor. It’s your promise they have bought into and they are trusting you to deliver on this.

Live your values day-in-day-out

So many organisations have a set of values but often nobody knows what they are. Where your team do know your values they perhaps don’t define the everyday operations and communications across your business, or at worst contradict these. So it’s important to set out your value-led behaviours, not just value statement. This means bringing to life how your brand will behave on a daily basis, to guide the employees towards delivering a consistent brand experience to customers. Done well, this has a massive impact on building brand trust. Taken further, you can appraise employees based on these and ask customers to measure you against these.

Develop consistency

A brand has to be authentic to achieve consistency. If you say you’re a customer-centric organisation but really your ‘why’ is profit, you simply won’t behave like a customer-centric brand. Conversely, when you set out who you are, why you exist and what values drive you genuinely (your why), consistency will come from simply being who you say you are. Attracting and recruiting like-minded people who share those values and buy in to the why, who operate with guidance from value-led behaviours. This will be a key factor in you delivering a consistent brand experience.

Because trust is earned, and the only way to earn it is to be who you say you are.

For more tips on how to build trust in your brand, download our Little Book of B2B Brand.