Trust, first pillar of Purpose

It’s the most important out of the five pillars, since it works as an amplifier for the others. If people trust your brand, it will be more credible when in comes to responsibility, vision, futureproofing, and innovation.

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What do we mean by trust?

In our study, trust is made up of statements that have to do with shared values, trust and honesty. Trust tells us if people feel that they can count on companies and brands, and if they share their view of what’s important in life. It’s the most important out of the five pillars, since it works as an amplifier for the others. If people trust your brand, it will be more credible when in comes to responsibility, vision, futureproofing, and innovation.

We’ve measured purpose among companies and brands in our annual study for a number of years now, during which we’ve discovered that purposeful brands rate high on five factors. We see them as the pillars of purpose: trust, responsibility, vision, futureproofing, and innovation.

When does it matter?

Today’s consumer is not only informed and critical, but prone to action. Belief-driven buyers will look for brands that they feel understand them, and will choose, switch and boycott based on trust in a brand. And in a fast-paced world, people judge fast. They also don’t forget: we’ve seen in our study that there’s a tendency to keep punishing brands for previous mistakes.

However, once established, trust can be an asset when a company or brand faces tough issues or scandals. But it’s a high stakes game. If you have built a trustworthy position with people and they in spite of this lose faith in you, it’s a plunge that can be difficult to recover from. From there, even small mistakes can taint a majority of positives for a company.

Talking about it isn't enough

It’s not about telling people to place trust in your brand. Big words about integrity, privacy and safety won’t do you any real good unless you are transparent about your business and keep your promises. On the other hand, if you really have done work to be a trustworthy company for your customers, make sure it shows. How will people otherwise know?

Also make sure your values are relevant and authentic, and not just words. From owners and management down to customer facing staff, your organization needs to share your purpose and feel empowered by your values. That’s when your brand will be perceived as trustworthy, when you can prove your claims through action on a daily basis.

Who does it well?

Trust in 2020

We’re expecting to see considerable movement on Trust in this year’s Purposeful Brands™. Not just because it’s an exceptional year, but because many sectors have faced situations where their customers trust in them was challenged. Two examples:

Airlines have truly been put to the test in situations with high expectations on them. Early in the pandemic, they were expected to bring people home safely from infected areas, and in later months they’ve needed to reschedule or refund customers for cancelled trips. They’ve also had to handle extreme financial stress and make tough choices about employee numbers.

Pharmaceutical companies have stepped up and emerged as the heroes that will give us normal back. A lot of people have likely understood for the first time what these companies actually do, and realized that it’s something very important. The high level of transparency into the vaccine process has also revealed how much responsibility that’s involved in developing new pharmaceuticals.

Purposeful Brands™ 2021

We’re super excited to see how companies rank in this year’s Purposeful Brands™ study. People’s sense of insecurity about the now and the future may very well have amplified the significance of trust for purposeful brands.

We’re once again covering Sweden, the US and China in two categories, Corporate Brands and Digital Service Brands. Sign up to receive the study when released.


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