Business concept isolated on white
Business concept isolated on white

It’s no secret that marketing is always in search of the secret formula. The kind of thing which, once applied, makes consumers beat a path to its door, money clasped tightly in their hand, arms waving madly.

If the image conjures up exceptional moments like the release of Harry Potter books or the latest iPhone the good news is that it does not require exceptionally deep pockets or a global marketing team to achieve. It does, however, take a clear understanding of what it is a brand does and why it should even be in business.

Before we get too introspective, the three things first. In The Tribe That Discovered Trust I detailed how, Peter Hiscocks, Professor at Cambridge Judge Business School which is part of the University of Cambridge, in England, says that “The ultimate goal of marketing is to generate an intense bond between the consumer and the brand, and the main ingredient of this bond is trust”.

Building on his work in a research paper titled “The nature of trust in brands: a psychosocial model” Richard Elliott from the University of Bath and Natalia Yannopoulou from the University of Warwick, both in the UK, identified three steps that lead from personal trust to trust in a brand:

  • Familiarity
  • Confidence
  • Trustworthiness

The ‘secret’ formula then is that simple. Familiarity requires visibility across many different platforms. It may take forms such as advertising or word of mouth, spread across social networks. It will require some kind of content marketing strategy and it will presuppose that a brand has something meaningful to say and has a communicative way when it comes to saying it.

This is where the introspection part kicks in. A brand is, essentially, an identity. It stands for something specific. It has a set of values and a unique way of doing things. It is, in other words, an entity which in the minds of its audience, has a character and a voice. These things, whether felt consciously (the way Virgin does it, for instance) or subconsciously (the way Amazon does it) are felt nevertheless and they influence the mind of its audience when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

This influence exists in the Venn Diagram between objective reality and subjective beliefs. In the intersubjective space that is formed by their overlap, a brand holds effective sway over its audience.

Each of the three key elements that make a brand successful also form part of the mechanism that allows a brand and its audience to make Contact, create or meet Perception, go through a stage of Assessment and establish a Connection. These four stages or steps is how trust is formed.

Without trust, a brand cannot find an audience.