I was reading a list of the Australian brands voted most trustworthy in 2019. One thing that stood out was how successful these brands were.
Some were corporations.
Others were charities.
Most, if not all of them, had been around for decades… and weren’t exactly struggling.
If you want to follow Spock’s advice to Live Long and Prosper, then earning the people’s trust is a smart play.
“Hold on, William,” you might be thinking, “how do you know that’s the direction of causation? What if people trust the brands that have been around longest? Trust could be a product of longevity, not its cause.”
A wise and intelligent observation.
Let’s unpack that a little:
Either trust leads to an organisation kicking butt for years to come. In which case, great – get started on earning that right away.
Simply by consistently being awesome over time, you naturally accrue trust.
So you either have a reason to focus on trust or a recipe to do so. Isn’t that an intriguing thought?
Still, the question of trust deserves a clearer answer. Does it actually improve an organisation? Is trust worth investing in?
Well, consider the example of Volkswagen.
The largest car manufacturer got slammed for fudging its emissions tests. A huge part of their brand – that is, their trust – was based around superior, cleaner engineering.
Sure, they were fined a bunch for various authorities.
But that wasn’t the real cost. The loss of trust hit their bottom line much, much harder.
They knew they had to rebuild their reputation. One small part of that was a genius ad launched in mid-2019. Look up “Volkswagen hello light” on YouTube – it’s a masterful example of how to move on from a mistake.
This ad wasn’t selling a product. It was asking the world to trust them again.
But why bother?
When customers trusts an organisation, it makes a world of difference. Every major organisation screws up, often publicly. Think of all the scandals and concerns around Apple. I mean, they once released a phone that couldn’t handle phone calls.
Do you think their diehard fans cared?
Sure, a little.
But they knew Apple would fix the problem.
Volkswagen, too, is slowly clawing its way back. As of this writing, its share price hasn’t recovered to 2015 levels. But recovering, it is.
By consistently showing up, doing right and aspiring to be better.
If you think about the role trust played for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, consistency is key. The person who always shares their extra berries with you isn’t likely to backstab you. Doing well by others over years requires patience.
And ten times more patience if you’re secretly plotting their demise.
Whether trust causes longevity or is a result of it, it doesn’t matter. Either case invites you to hold yourself (and your organisation) to a higher standard. Do this for long enough and you become one of those rare brands who can weather even the toughest scandals.