Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

Success depends on the ability to get people to support your organization. That is true for all of us—manufacturers, service providers, retailers, non-profits, and government agencies. We depend on people who will buy our products, who will come to work with us as employees, who will purchase our stock as investors, and who will speak well about us with friends and colleagues.

That’s why the current trend of diminishing trust is so concerning, and why it requires action.

In January, the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer reported that trust in the U.S. has suffered the largest-ever-recorded drop in the survey’s history among the general population, with declines across government, business, media, and NGOs. Then in April, the Reputation Institute released its 2018 U.S. RepTrak® 100, which tracks the levels of consumer respect for, trust in, and connection with businesses and the resulting impact on consumer behavior—their willingness to purchase from, recommend, invest in, or work for a company.

The RepTrak study also showed a substantial drop in consumer trust and confidence across multiple factors.

Consumers have always wanted to do business with companies they trust and respect. And in today’s super-connected environment where consumers expect to hear from us, trust and respect are even more critical. It’s not enough to simply avoid negative commentary—in order to build trust and goodwill, companies need to actively demonstrate their trustworthiness. That trustworthiness includes the quality and value of products, but consumers also expect to know who we are—our values, our mission, our brand promise. And they want to do business with companies that deliver on those values and promises.

To build and sustain brand strength and reputation, organizations can follow these three tenets:

  1. Know who you are: Be clear on the values, mission, and brand promise that your organization and your employees live by.
  2. Tell who you are: Communicate, communicate, communicate. The more people know about your company, the stronger your brand reputation will be. Use all channels available to you: your employees, direct customer communications, paid advertising, the press, social media—all channels are good channels. And because you know who you are, your message will be consistent whether you’re delivering news on products, on your business, or on corporate citizenship.
  3. Be authentic: Our communications ecosystem is far too transparent to think that we can hide the truth.

Companies are working harder than ever to earn the trust of their stakeholders. And while it’s harder than ever to earn, consumer trust is a leading indicator of success that won’t be achieved without specific and direct action. Start today.

2018 Trust Barometer Global Report, Edelman

2018 U.S. RepTrak 100®, Reputation Institute

Wynn Saggus, Senior VP/Group Account Director