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Why 2021 Should Be The Year Challenger Brands Embrace Trust

After the events of 2020, trust has never been more important.

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When you’re building a challenger brand, trust is vital. No matter your sector, specialism or size, trust is a foundational pillar to growing any business.

As of April 2021, American trust in the government sits at a low 24%. In 2020, 85% of people wanted brands to solve their problems and 80% wanted brands to solve society’s problems.

Trust is synonymous with authenticity 

Whether it’s presenting your brand with honesty at every touchpoint or admitting when you’re in the wrong, consumers want authenticity and will reward those that showcase it. In 2019, an overwhelming 92% of marketers believed that most or all of the content they were sharing was resonating as authentic with consumers. When consumers were asked, over 50% said that less than half came across as authentic. That overestimation on the part of marketers isn’t surprising, and reinforces the need for empathy, understanding and testing. Get to know your consumers, their values, their ethics and don’t just view your brand through the eyes of your customer. Check in with them to ensure that perception matches their lived experience.

Related: Your Team Will Succeed Only if They Trust Each Other

Trust promises growth 

The brands that engage meaningfully will reap rewards by proving they practice what they preach and taking steps to actively improve the lives of consumers. When it comes to a brand they trust, 61% of consumers will advocate for that brand, 57% will purchase from that brand and 43% will remain loyal to that brand. By contrast, 40% state they have stopped buying from a brand they love because they don’t trust the corporate owner. However you choose to look at it, trust leads to business growth.

Trust needs to be built from the inside out

For trust to be authentic and led by truth, it needs to be built into a brand’s foundations and a part of its framework as it supports the brand moving forward. In 2003, Harvard Business Review published a piece titled "The Enemies of Trust", breaking down internal trust into three categories:

  1. Strategic Trust, denoting the trust employees have in those at the top
  2. Personal Trust, which employees have in their own managers
  3. Organizational Trust, which people have in the company itself. To portray trust on the outside, brands need to embed trust in all of these levels internally. 

Trust comes from a brand’s political position 

While preparing for a press conference ahead of Portugal’s Euro 2020 football championship opener, Christian Ronaldo removed two Coca-Cola bottles out of camera shot before encouraging people to instead drink water. The result saw countless articles talking about the implications to the Coca-Cola brand and caused a stir on social media. But it also raises a bigger question around activism. In the same way the move would have strengthened the Christian Ronaldo ‘brand’, consumers are looking for brands that align with their politics. Be that Levi Strauss & Co. taking a stand against gun violence or Patagonia sewing a "vote the assholes out" label into their garments in September of last year, 83% of millennials want companies to align with their values and over 75% want CEOs to speak out on issues they care about.

Related: Why Trust and Incentives Help Consumers With Better Brand Selection

Trust is memorable 

Recently, Deloitte published a piece stating that, of a study with 2,447 people across eight countries, over 65% said they were able to recall when brands acted in self-interest, such as raising prices on essential items. Of those, one in four said they stopped buying from that brand. In the same way mistrust is memorable to consumers, so too is trust. Make moves to surprise your customers in the best way, and prove you can deliver on your promise.

Related: 4 Behaviors Leaders Must Model to Build a Culture of Trust

Rahul Raj

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Rahul Raj is the founder of 5&Vine, a full service marketing agency dedicated to helping Challenger brands win. He's created an organization recognized by TIME as "revolutionary,” has been honored with Walmart's Innovation Champion Award, and has been awarded a fellowship with the Aspen Institute.