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Trust grows with a brand’s authenticity, and simplicity

Brand Building Best Practices

 Trust | Authenticity

Trust grows

with a brand’s


and simplicity

Success requires being reliable,

respectful, relevant, and real

by Purvi Mistry

Strategic Planning Director

J Walter Thompson, Mumbai


A tough question looms large before brand marketers: do I want to build a brand that people love; or do I want to build a brand that people trust? There is no concrete evidence to show that one billion likes on social media equates with the trust of one billion consumers.

Today, unfortunately, love too often is short-lived and fleeting. But trust goes a long way in commanding consumer loyalty—once earned, it is there to stay.

Trust is the embodiment of truth, and truth supersedes everything else. But in an era where the truth is more often than not twisted to suit a purpose, it becomes doubly tough for a brand to gain trust by merely being truthful.

In these circumstances, brands can gain consumer trust and loyalty by being themselves; by shaping their practices to build on the brand’s authenticity and communicating to consumers in uncomplicated and simplified ways.

Authenticity is a fine blend of being reliable, respectful, and real. An authentic brand will deliver on its promises (reliable); treat its customers well (respectful), and act with integrity while being genuine (real).

Simplicity is about being true, relevant, and non-ambiguous. A brand that simplifies will uphold its values (true); deliver what the consumer actually needs (relevant); and be clear and articulate in its communication (non-ambiguous).

A brand earns the seal of trust when it is seen to deliver on both authenticity and simplicity.

Authentic, simplified, and trusted

The first brand to be labeled trustworthy would be Tata, synonymous with trust for decades. It has done a wonderful job of cementing trust across all kinds of offerings and consumers. It has done so by being reliable, Tata Salt (Desh ka namak, a campaign that associates the brand with heroic people); being true, Tata Capital (“We only do what’s right for you”), and being relevant, Fastrack (a Tata brand of urban accessories).

Another brand to uphold trust through purity and consistent delivery is Parachute Coconut Oil. It is the undisputed leader in its category and singly stands for purity and quality. Since before independence the simplest of offerings, a biscuit, Parle-G, has staked claim to be being the bestselling brand in its category. There is no ambiguity around what it offers, and it continues to be the trustworthy source of glucose and a reliable teatime snack.

Globally, Google has carved a niche for itself by being simple. It accepts your query on the internet and presents to you the most relevant answers making it the most used search engine. Google’s other applications are equally intuitive and widely used in an integrated, relevant fashion, including Maps, YouTube, and Gmail.

Another brand that cannot be omitted when discussing authenticity is Dove. With its “Real Beauty” campaign it shattered the myths around beauty and earned the respect of many women who saw their values reflected by a brand that made women feel beautiful as they are. Without complicating matters, these brands have earned consumer trust through simplicity and authenticity.

Building trust

The examples of these brands suggest that these are among the ways to earn and sustain trust:

  1. Be consistent and clear Set out with a clear vision and brand promise and ensure that communication remains consistent and clear with the progress of time. Lux has always been known as “the beauty soap of the film stars.” There is no ambiguity.

  1. Give back meaningfully Brands are on consumer social radar and expected to give back to society to show they merit the trust placed in them. For example, Rin, a detergent brand, in partnership with Lokmat, a newspaper brand, launched the Jalsamrudh Maharashtra initiative, a campaign to spread awareness for water conservation across the state of Maharashtra.

  1. Engage A brand is akin to a real person the mind of the consumer who wants to communicate with the brand. Social media is a great channel for this conversation. A brand’s response to reviews and feedback—both positive and negative—strengthens the consumer’s belief in brand’s authenticity.

  1. Be human It takes time and effort to build and maintain trust. With frequent changes in consumer behavior, a brand may falter but all it needs to get back on the right track is to constantly adjust its execution while staying consistent with its vision.