The most important quality that you need to develop as part of your brand strategy is consumer trust in your brand promise. In other words, consumers need to trust that your brand will deliver on its promise in every interaction, or they'll turn away from your brand in search of one that does meet their expectations and delivers on its promise again and again.
Brand Trust and the 3 Steps of Brand Building
Just as you can't trust a person whom you can't depend on, consumers don't trust brands that they can't depend on. And you certainly can't expect consumers to buy your brand, stay loyal to your brand, and tell other people positive things about your brand if they don't trust it. Bottom-line, building brand trust is a fundamental part of developing your brand, and it needs to be prioritized as such.
The concept of brand trust permeates into all three of the primary steps of brand building -- consistency, persistence, and restraint. Inconsistency in brand message, brand image, or brand extensions and expansions leads to consumer confusion. Remember, your brand must set and meet customer expectations. When your brand is inconsistent in any way, consumers are quick to replace it. Don't give them a reason to replace your brand!
Brand Trust Leads to Brand Loyalty
Think of a brand that you trust will meet your expectations every time you purchase and use it. Due to that level of trust, you're probably loyal to that brand and choose it over others. You might even be extremely loyal to that brand and go out of your way to find it if it's not available at the store where you usually buy it. Your loyalty to that brand might even lead you to recommend the brand to your friends and family members. You might even talk about that brand regardless of whether someone asks you about it or not.
For example, how many times have you heard a loyal Apple customer talk about how great his iPhone or iPad is over the past few years? Whether or not you asked his opinion, he probably couldn't help but talk about his love for his iPhone or iPad. That's a perfect example of brand loyalty, which developed at least in part from brand trust -- trust that the iPhone or iPad will meet his expectations and that the overall Apple brand will deliver on its brand promise in every interaction he has with it.
Brand trust and loyalty apply to all markets and industries. When you trust the service your accountant delivers, you're loyal to him or her (and to his or her brand) and recommend that accountant to other people. When you buy a car from a dealership that treats you well, you're likely to trust that dealership to provide similar service to other people. Therefore, you'll probably recommend that dealership and even buy another car there in the future for yourself.
The key to understanding how brand trust leads to brand loyalty and brand advocacy is this. Not only must a consumer trust that your brand will deliver on its promise in every interaction he or she has with it but also that it will deliver on its promise in any interactions that other people have with it.
For example, you might trust that a specific brand will deliver a specific experience for you each time you purchase it, but do you trust it so much that you're confident other people will enjoy the same experience? If you answered "yes" to that question, then your trust in that brand has developed into brand loyalty and brand advocacy. And that's the level of trust you want your brand to reach with consumers -- to the level that they buy it again and again and advocate it to other people, too.