Resource Center > Business > Mastering customer trust: The art of brand trust and credibility management in a skeptical world

Mastering customer trust: The art of brand trust and credibility management in a skeptical world

by Rockey Simmons

Reading at home with pet Jack Russell terrier looking trustingly at his owner. Cozy home weekend with interesting book, dog and hot tea. Beige and blue. Chilling mood

Brand trust and credibility management is what creates the powerful advertisement people see in their head when they think about your brand.

Picture it like this: You walk into a crowded room filled with businesspeople, all vying for attention.

They’re chatting, laughing, and exchanging business cards, desperately trying to make a lasting impression. Meanwhile, you confidently stroll in, heads turn, and whispers fill the air. Why? Because you’re known, you command attention, and you have mastered the art of building trust and credibility.

That’s what a great brand trust and credibility management strategy can do for your business.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the strategies, techniques, and mindset shifts required for you to cultivate unwavering trust in your brand, establish credibility, and earn the respect of your target audience.

Plus, we’ll give you downloadable access to a trust and credibility resource that’s a complete game changer.

Definition of brand trust and credibility

Brand trust and credibility are crucial factors in today’s competitive marketplace.

But what exactly do these terms mean, and why should you care about them?

  • Brand trust refers to the confidence that customers have in a brand’s ability to consistently deliver on its promises. It is built over time through a combination of integrity, competence, and meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • Credibility, on the other hand, relates to the perceived expertise and reliability of a brand. It involves being seen as trustworthy, reliable, and authentic.

Brand trust and credibility go hand in hand as key factors in building and maintaining a successful business.

Understanding brand trust and credibility management

As consumers become more discerning, they seek brands that they can rely on and believe in.

This is where brand trust and credibility management come into play. By understanding the importance of these key factors and implementing strategies to build and maintain them, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and establish long-lasting connections with your target customers.

Or as I like to call them, your empathy audience.

Let’s break brand trust and credibility into separate ideas that offer you tangible levers you can control at will.

1. The power of trust and its influence on purchasing decisions:

Customers are more likely to choose a brand they trust over another, as they feel confident in the brand’s ability to consistently deliver on its promises.

Building trust requires your business to demonstrate integrity, competence, and a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and desires.

2. Building brand credibility:

To build credibility, you can create and share white papers or publish authoritative content that showcases your knowledge and expertise.

An easier way to put this is you solving a problem with your content or giving them a clear path to solve things themselves.

By positioning yourself as a thought leader, you establish a reputation of reliability and authenticity in the eyes of your target audience.

3. Managing online presence and reputation:

Have you ever noticed social accounts that have comments but no responses back? It’s called social media, not “post-and-never-respond” media.

Participating in online conversation can establish a transparent and trustworthy image.

More importantly, regularly monitoring and addressing negative reviews or customer complaints helps mitigate any potential damage to your brand’s reputation.

Are online reputation issues hurting your business? Find out with our free Reputation Report Card. Start Your Scan

We talk more in-depth about how to do this later.

The takeaway here is:

By focusing on your credibility, establishing expertise, and maintaining a strong online presence, you can become a fundamental part of how customers solve a problem. This can create long-lasting connections with them and differentiates you from your competitors.

Why are brand trust and credibility important?

You want to gain the trust and loyalty of existing customers and attract new ones through positive word-of-mouth and recommendations, right?

Mediocrity is running rampant, and faster—not better—is the theme. So, standing out from the crowd isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have.

As consumers grow more discerning and cautious, they are drawn to brands they feel they can rely on and believe in.

How you build brand trust and credibility

Want people to trust you? Become an indispensable tool they use.

Customers are no longer swayed by flashy advertisements or empty promises; they crave authenticity and reliability.

Below, we start the journey of showing exactly how that’s done.

Customer service and experience

The business model online or storefront has changed.

Customers are seeking personalized and unique experiences that go beyond simply acquiring a product. They yearn for interactions that are not only hassle-free but also meaningful and memorable.

The role of customer service:

Excellent customer service can elevate your brand and create a lasting impression on consumers.

Here are a few ways to apply this in your business:

  • Strive to understand your customers’ needs and exceed their expectations.
  • Investing in high-quality training for front-line staff and equipping them with the skills to anticipate and address customer concerns effectively.

Additionally, you want to become obsessed with building trust and credibility throughout the customer journey.

Find out what they are really thinking. Build processes that take less time, are friendly for non-technical people (if your business is online), and don’t offer promises you are not equipped to keep.

Ultimately, businesses that prioritize customer service and believe in quality over quantity are more likely to thrive in today’s fiercely competitive market.

Unhappy customers

Negative reviews can significantly impact your brand’s reputation, as potential customers may perceive them as a reflection of the overall quality of your product or service.

Are online reputation issues hurting your business? Find out with our free Reputation Report Card. Start Your Scan

Moreover, negative reviews can erode brand credibility, making it harder for you to attract and retain loyal customers.

Negative reviews and how to address them:

To address negative reviews, you can employ various strategies.

Firstly, take the time to carefully read and understand the concerns raised in the reviews. This demonstrates that the company values customer feedback and is genuinely interested in resolving issues.

The ability to show that you care about the problems customers are encountering with your product or service shows accountability. This responsiveness can make loyal customers more likely to overlook any mistakes you might make in the future, which can help with retention.

Business leader networking

In the world of business, influential decision-makers hold the keys to the kingdom. Collaborating with them shows you belong at the table.

Establishing thought leadership:

With so many people talking about “solopreneurship,” it’s easy to think you don’t need help or collaboration skills to succeed in your industry. But all the great brands have connections, and customers see it.

Consider this: What’s better than growing an audience of loyal followers who know, like, and trust you?

Having another thought leader’s audience know, like, and trust you.

Other thought leaders’ opinions can carry significant weight in your industry. In fact, having someone else with a loyal following co-sign your credibility can give you an instant electrifying shock of trust that strikes with mind-blowing accuracy.

Building trust with business leaders not only enhances the credibility of a brand, but it can also open doors to a wealth of opportunities, including:

See your business's reputation the way your customers do. Get your free Reputation Report Card. Start Your Scan
  • Brand visibility
  • An extensive network of connections
  • Influence

If you’re looking to introduce your brand to a wider audience and attract potential customers who trust your judgment and brand, then networking and collaboration might be the spark you need.

But it’s not the only thing.

Brand perception

An active and engaging online presence allows you to showcase your personal brand by interacting with your target audience, addressing their concerns, and displaying your authenticity.

Managing online presence:

Never underestimate the power of social media.

By maintaining consistent and transparent communication through social media platforms, online forums, and customer review websites, you’ll be adding to the brand trust and credibility management ecosystem you are creating.

I discuss this more later, but it’s best practice to promptly respond to negative reviews or feedback and demonstrate a commitment to improving and resolving issues.

Additionally, actively engaging with customers in online conversations and being careful about their needs sends out a beacon of hope to all the leads who long for this kind of personal attention.

Speaking of leads, let’s talk a little about some of the prerequisites for building trust and credibility with potential customers.

Target customers

In the world of marketing, one of the most important concepts to grasp is that of target customers.

These are the specific group of individuals that your brand is trying to connect with and ultimately persuade to act.

Understanding who your target customers are, tailoring your messaging to them, and appealing to their needs and values is the secret sauce that will help you reach your business goals.

But there are a few other areas included in brand trust and credibility management when attempting to steal the hearts of prospective customers:

  • Your marketing messages
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • White papers
  • Edelman Trust Barometer

These are the things that elevate your brand trust for non-customers and hopefully (and when done right) get them over the hump to becoming paying customers.

So, we’ll focus on these three areas in the next section of this article.

Marketing messages

When you have a clear understanding of your target customers, you can create marketing campaigns and content that speak directly to them.

By crafting messages that resonate with their desires and pain points, you can establish trust and build a strong connection.

But how do you identify your target customers?

Start by conducting thorough research to gain insights into their demographics, interests, and behaviors.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What are their goals and aspirations?
  • What are their challenges and frustrations?
  • What values and beliefs are important to them?
  • What problems do they need solved?

Once you have gathered this information, you can use it to shape your marketing strategies.

Craft messaging that directly addresses their needs and values and ensure that your branding and visuals align with their preferences.

Tailoring your efforts to appeal to your target customers will not only increase your chances of reaching these individuals, but it will also establish a solid foundation of trust and credibility between you and them.

Customer testimonials

Customer testimonials are one of the most powerful tools in building brand trust and credibility and gaining new leads.

This is because potential customers often seek reassurance before making their purchasing decisions.

They want to hear from others who have already experienced the product or service. By showcasing positive reviews and stories from satisfied customers, your business can instill confidence in potential buyers.

Why are customer testimonials so effective?

Because of social proof. Other consumers’ opinions validate your brand’s claims and builds trust. This relatability creates a connection between your brand and potential buyers, making them more likely to move through the sales funnel.

You might be asking, “What if I don’t have any social proof?

That’s easy, you don’t have to be an expert:

  • You can borrow social proof to validate your idea or use your own personal stories of how you solved the problem with your product.
  • Use the expertise of another successful person who believes in the same process you do.
  • You can get beta testers to use your product and give you feedback and use that.
See your business's reputation the way your customers do. Get your free Reputation Report Card. Start Your Scan

But if you can, you should use customer stories because they provide an immediate, tangible, and genuine way for potential buyers to see themselves benefiting from a brand’s products or services.

By sharing real-life experiences, guided testimonials (meaning they follow a questionnaire you give them) provide valuable insights into the customer experience and help alleviate any doubts or concerns that leads may have.

This transparency builds credibility and strengthens the overall brand image.

Positive reviews

Positive reviews have the power to sway purchasing decisions and cultivate brand loyalty among customers.

Here are three strategies and best practices to encourage and collect positive reviews:

1. Utilize online review platforms: Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by establishing a presence on popular platforms such as Google Business Profile, Yelp, Trustpilot, G2, Capterra, or TripAdvisor. Encourage customers to share their feedback and experiences on these platforms to demonstrate your brand’s credibility.

2. Harness the power of social proof: Share positive reviews and testimonials on your website, social media platforms, and marketing materials. By highlighting the positive experiences of others, you create a sense of trust and confidence in your brand.

3. Engage with customers: Respond to both positive and negative reviews promptly and with a customer-centric approach. Address any concerns or issues raised in negative reviews and show your commitment to customer satisfaction.

White papers

One effective way to achieve trust is to create white papers, which serve as informative content that addresses the needs and challenges of your target audience.

When done well, white papers can establish your brand as a trusted authority and provide solutions that attract and engage potential customers.

Best practices include:

  • A clear and compelling title that captures the essence of the topic—This helps grab the attention of your target audience and entices them to read further.
  • A brief overview of the paper’s key findings—You can provide this information in an executive summary that also explains how your business addresses the pain points of your target market.
  • Research-based information—This is a crucial element of white papers. By presenting reliable data and insights, you demonstrate your expertise and authority in the field.
  • Actionable insights and practical solutions that your target audience can implement—Including this information shows them that you understand their challenges and are genuinely invested in their success.

Through informative content like this that addresses their needs and provides effective solutions, you can position your brand as a reliable source of expertise and build lasting relationships with your target audience.

Edelman Trust Barometer

The Edelman Trust Barometer is an invaluable tool for businesses looking to manage brand trust and credibility.

This annual survey measures the levels of trust in various industries and regions, providing key insights that can inform strategic decision-making.

By analyzing the data from the Edelman Trust Barometer, you can gain a deep understanding of the trust landscape within your industry and identify areas for improvement.

The survey examines trust in institutions such as government, media, businesses, and NGOs, shedding light on the factors that influence consumers’ trust levels.

The findings from the Edelman Trust Barometer reveal important trends and insights, especially regarding branding.

Special report and brand trust and credibility management in 2023

The Collapse of the Purchase Funnel,” the latest special report from Edelman on brand trust, shows consumers are making fewer impulse purchases. On top of that, “the purchase funnel no longer reflects the modern brand-consumer relationship.”

The report also highlights the crucial role of business leaders in building trust, as people are more likely to trust an institution when they trust its CEO.

It also confirms that the purchase of a product is only the beginning and that customers are now focusing on other aspects of your brand after the purchase.

See your business's reputation the way your customers do. Get your free Reputation Report Card. Start Your Scan

This means what you do after the sale is just as important as what you did to attract customers.

Utilize the information from the Edelman Trust Barometer data inside the downloadable report to improve your brand trust and credibility. By understanding the key drivers of trust in your industry and which customer types need what, you can focus your efforts on building trust where it matters most.

Final thoughts

The Edelman Trust Barometer confirms in great detail the importance of trust in the purchasing decisions of potential customers.

This article is a condensed guide of how to get started. Remember, it takes time and effort to establish trust, but the potential benefits of a solid reputation are worth it.

Here are the key points to consider:

  • Trust and credibility are essential in influencing purchasing decisions and building brand loyalty.
  • Positive customer testimonials and reviews play a significant role in establishing trust and credibility.
  • A strong online presence, customer service, and a deep understanding of the target customers contribute to building trust.
  • White papers and relevant content showcase expertise, enhancing brand credibility.
  • Ensuring a positive customer experience is vital for building trust and loyalty.
  • Addressing negative reviews and feedback promptly helps maintain trust in the brand.
  • The Edelman Trust Barometer provides valuable insights into the trust levels of consumers and business leaders.
  • Building trust and credibility is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort.

Becoming proficient with the steps in this guide is a worthwhile endeavor that can yield long-term benefits and contribute to the genius of your brand.

For expert help building business or personal brand trust and cementing the online presence you want to have with less effort, start with downloading your free Reputation Report Card. This will give you instant access to what your online reputation looks like to others, which will help you start visualizing the smartest and quickest path to achieving brand trust and credibility.

This post was contributed by Rockey Simmons, founder of SaaS Marketing Growth.