Brand Trust: The Six Drivers of Trust

Trust. The word of the moment. From advertisers to analysts, from the media to marketing, everybody’s talking about trust. In fact, according to a recent Mintel report on the top consumer trends for 2009, “trust is the paramount concern…as banks, food manufacturers and government officials suffer from losing people’s trust.”

So if trust is important. And everybody’s talking about it. What exactly are the benefits of trust, and how can brands and businesses build it?

These are the questions we explored in a recent North American study into the benefits and drivers of brand trust. If you want to know how you can get people to buy more, try more and pay more for your products and services, check out the following presentation on brand trust:


Anonymous said...

Good presentation, Nick. I am curious about where 'Consistency' fits into the brand trust picture, or if it is just inferred. Many clients seem to understand what they need to do to build trust, but they don't do it consistently, which, ultimately leads to distrust.

Nick Black said...

Hi Rodger,

Great question, to which I’ll give two answers: short and long.

Short Answer: I would absolutely agree that consistency along with clarity and honesty are important when building trust – however I’m not sure many clients understand what’s needed to build trust.

Long Answer: Do many clients understand what’s needed to build trust?

The reality is that trust is a frequently used word, that often ends up sitting in the same ‘important but impossible to manage’ category as love. This is illustrated very well by some research from the University of Minnesota, which found at least 17 distinct definitions for the word trust, a similar number to the word love. Clients want to build trust. But they often struggle to define what trust is, let alone how they can systematically build and measure it.

The only way we were able to uncover these trust drivers, was through in-depth psychology. Through this we found that trust builds for brands and businesses in much the same way as it builds for people - holistically. With any of the six trust drivers, if you fail to deliver in a clear, consistent and honest way, the strength of that driver will be affected.

For Example: The relationship driver. If you don’t have a clear relationship, or the nature of the relationship frequently changes, or you’re not honest about the type of relationship you’re going to provide, people won’t trust it. Same for a brand as it is for a person.

This is why defining how YOUR brand will deliver against each of the drivers is so important (step two in the presentation). Every brand is unique.

Hope this helps,


Susan Weinschenk said...

Hi Nick;

It is interesting that you posted this so close to the date when I posted my blog about Web Site Loyalty and Fun... ( We must be thinking on the same wavelength! Your slide deck is very interesting. Is it unusual for all the factors to have equal weight? Can you say more about how you conducted your research? Sounds like it was fascinating, and a lot of data!

Nick Black said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for the comment. Like your blog, I’ve added it to my reading list.

The data in this presentation is the culmination of almost a decade of research and analysis on brand trust (broken into two main steps).

Step one involved qualitative research. The model was initially built using in-depth morphological research (under the supervision of Prof. Wilhelm Salber). This research involved undertaking in-depth 90-minute interviews on the topic of brand trust. The findings from these interviews allowed us to diagnose how trust forms psychologically, and build a model of brand trust.

Step two involved quantitative research. The brand trust model was recently quantified online with 1000 North Americans. This was done by measuring the individual strength of the trust drivers, and the overall level of trust in 30 prominent brands (For example: Kraft, Starbucks, Google).

Is the equal weighting of the drivers unusual? Not for us. The morphological approach is based on psychological tensions - in this case tensions associated with brand trust. The six drivers actually work in tension with each other: Stability & Innovation, Relationship & Practical Value, Vision & Competence. For us, equal weighting is the sign of a good model.

Nick Black

olivier said...

Great presentation.
and excellent insight.
I would not compare trust with love then.
Love last only 3 years at its best.
Trust can last for ever depends how you manage your relationship with your customers. So what are the psychological and sociological insights that are necessary then to manage on the long run, this long lasting a forever relationship?
Do you have the last piece of puzzle to make a brand shine like a sun?
again bravo for this great job.

Nick Black said...

Hi Olivier, glad you liked it.

Sounds like your relationships could use some more trust ;)

RE: How can does a brand build trust over the long run?

The six drivers never stop turning. Just like human beings and life, they’re dynamic and constantly evolving.If a brand wants to build and maintain trust, it also needs to keep evolving.

Linda C Smith said...

This is a great presentation but I wouldn't stop there. One of the reasons my parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents were so loyal to Sears was that the products they bought there were reliable. When my dad bought a hammer from Sears, he knew it was a good one because it was from Sears. Dad knew that the Craftsman brand of tools were to be trusted because he first trust that Sears would only carry the best. Consistency and reliability go in there with trustworthiness. I don't think a business can just decide to be trustworthy by following a script, rather, by following good business practices trust is built.

Nick Black said...

Thanks for the comment Linda. I’d dare say that the ‘relationship and practical value’ drivers were a pretty major factor in your Father’s loyalty to Sears; and perhaps stability too?