Most marketing professionals think of communications such as public relations, advertising, or packaging to be the most obvious approaches to brand building.
But trusted names in the business are more efficiently and effectively built when brand alignment occurs between the business processes, the culture, and ultimately the communications of a company and its products. Trust is built at every customer or investor touchpoint of the brand experience - "trustpoints" when they are implemented, managed, and aligned.
Brand trust often begins with a potential customer's first interaction with the employees of a company. Is the employee knowledgeable and friendly? If so, a trustpoint has been earned. Or, does the body language say they are tired and would prefer you were not there? In this case a barrier to the brand has been created. Once a barrier goes up, it takes greater effort to embrace it.
Managing all trustpoints builds a better brand. Think about your favorite product or service. Every time you use that product, an impression is made - ask yourself if it is positive, negative, or something in between. Consciously considering your own interactions with products you purchase will help you appreciate how consumers think about and grade your brand. Every trustpoint is an opportunity to build a lasting and positive impression.
Trustpoints are different for everyone. For example, an investor may consider earnings the most important trustpoint. For employees, it may be the salaries and benefits offered by a company. For the customer, the quality and price of products or services are most significant, as is the way they are treated. Benchmarking audiences that are important to success is the first step to establishing the value of a brand.
Building trust creates a premium value for revenue improvement and stock performance. While generally accepted accounting principles don't yet account for brand value on the balance sheet, it is crucial that management use brand valuation to set budgets and evaluate the success of marketing. In other words, marketing budgets should be determined in the same manner as other budgets within a company - based on potential ROI.
Trust is built over many different dimensions. Having a clear vision and communicating it consistently over time is the best way to build brand trust and value.
Jim Gregory is CEO of CoreBrand.