Impact of Trust on Brand Loyalty

Desi Gilliland

Account Executive

Do your customers trust you? Do you understand their ever-changing wants and needs? These are tough questions. And, if you’re not sure, is it time to re-evaluate your brand strategy? We live in a time where the customer has more power than ever, and in a time when their lives are changing rapidly, even impacting their daily routines. And impacting the brands they choose to buy from. It’s during these “tough times” that we as marketers are presented with a fantastic opportunity to build an even stronger bond between us and our target audience, making our brand the one they choose.

When it comes down to it, people make decisions based on a feeling. And people are feeling a lot of things right now. Luckily for us, this level of passion can translate directly into brand loyalty, if done right. The American Marketing Association cited that customers value trusted brand relationships now more than ever before, increasing by a whopping 47% since 2009. Customers don’t just want to buy your product or service, they want to buy the feeling they get when using your product. They want your brand to be a part of their identity. They want to know who you support behind the scenes and what role it plays in your brand story. Now is the time to leverage your brand’s passions and values to build a stronger bond with your target audience.

Let’s say you’re making your way to Starbucks. On your route, you pass a couple of kids at a lemonade stand. The kids smile and wave, holding up a sign that says “Raising money for kids who need backpacks!” What do you do? Of course, you stop and buy a .50 cent cup of lemonade. You may even give them a full $5 bill. Why? Because kids helping other kids pulls on your heartstrings. You didn’t stop because you thought it would be the greatest glass of lemonade you’ve ever had. You stopped because they connected to you on a deeper level. Similarly, building an emotional connection with your customers is crucial.

How can I leverage our brand values to show compassion?

1. Stay true to your brand “DNA”. In an age of rampant social media usage, you may feel compelled to take a stance as a brand. Before making any serious moves, it’s very important to ensure your stance is in line with your brand values and, equally as important, with your customers’ values. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, has always taken a stand against racial injustice. Therefore, their customer base likely were not shocked when they released their own Black Lives Matter statement.

2. Actions speak louder. It’s that famous phrase that draws a line between brands that truly care about change and brands that just want to jump on the bandwagon. Work with other brands or organizations that support the same values as your brand, and avoid those that don’t. In this day in age, you can count on your customers holding you accountable. Take the civil rights boycott against Facebook, for example. Although people were watching closely and taking note of who was leaving the platform, they were also keeping a running tally of who wasn’t leaving.

One brand that shows compassion while staying true to their identity is Chipotle. Their efforts to support the LGTBQ+ community is an example of their longstanding commitment to serve “real ingredients” with “real purpose.” They recently hosted a Lunch & Listen virtual event on Tik Tok, featuring some of the biggest names in the LGBTQ community.

“We wanted to transform our TikTok platform into a resource that both celebrates and educates people about Pride,” said Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer. “Authenticity and inclusion are values that guide much of our decision making as a purpose-driven organization.” Because their cause-driven campaigns are consistent with their brand values, Chipotle’s pride-focused initiatives are well-received overall, particularly by their target audience, Gen Z.

3. Stay nimble and keep up. The rate of change is accelerating exponentially with the help of social media. Because of this, we must be flexible to keep up with the rate of change. Shifting your strategy to align with consumer sentiment is not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. The values and behaviors that consumers have picked up over these past few months are highly likely to stick with them. It’s not about developing a promotion or campaign. It’s an ongoing open dialogue with your consumers to answer the question “How do you feel?” and “What challenges are you facing?”. Once you have the answers, adjust your messaging, and continue that open dialogue.

4. Give your employees the mic. People respond to connection. They crave companies to be more human, and to express emotion and honesty. Harness the power of your employees as one activation by sharing the spotlight with them. This will help your consumer know that you are a compassionate brand from the inside out. Papa Johns often hands over the mic to their team members on Instagram by featuring quotes from their employees and how they feel about working for Papa Johns.

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Sharing what your brand is most passionate about can greatly impact your brand’s reputation for the better. It shows that you are not just in it for money, but genuinely care about making a difference and driving change. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we listen to what our consumers are saying and shift our strategy to better serve their wants and needs.

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