1: Brands and the notion of trust

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‘Beans means Heinz’. Generations of consumers have been brought up with this claim. It’s a well-known example of how we all make decisions based on trust, whether it is a brand of food or a make of car. Brands make promises and they often use this to differentiate themselves from competitors and attract potential customers. These centre around behaviour – meeting your expectations with a specific promise of how you will be treated. If you can’t give them what they want, in the way that they want it, then they will look elsewhere. The following two brands make different promises resulting in different expectations from their audiences.

Flickr image by whatleydude


The promise of efficiency and speed of service. 1) Find the product code 2) Use order/pay terminal 3) Walk out with your item(s)

John Lewis:

The promise of exceptional customer service.

1) Leisurely shopping experience
2) Browsing is encouraged
3) Staff offer help around the store

The Argos brand is built on speed and efficiency whereas John Lewis promises a longer ‘shopping experience’. As a result they attract different sets of demands from their customers.

Trust can be lost in moments, despite sometimes taking years to build, often a result of only one bad experience. Try these: late deliveries or lost items from an online retailer, poor technical support from a technology supplier or unhelpful floor staff in a department store. These can easily result in lost customers and you will often never find out why.

poor phone based customer services is one of my (and possibly millions of others’) biggest annoyances. Many companies don’t even manage basic expectations by telling callers that they are in queue, or what position they hold. Interestingly, many UK companies have responded to this, recently announced their call centres will again be based in this country. Santander and BSkyB have made the switch with Esure and Powergen poised to follow.

1) They have seen (or perceived) their reputations have been damaged by poor publicity surrounding this issue
2) Potential marketing advantages have been spotted by moving earlier than competitors.
3) UK call centre costs are falling


So what does your brand stand for?

The essential point about trust, whether you’re starting a business or re-evaluating one, you have the opportunity to communicate not only what your business is but how you do business. This makes marketing your business easier and helps you target your customers more accurately. Decide what your business stands for and build a reputation around it.