Dipstick: “Does trust matter more than ever for brands?”

In this new age of consumerism, it matters all the more for companies to harness ‘trust’ as a binding factor to keep brands at the top

Neha Saraiya | New Delhi | December 20, 2011

Faith can move mountains, but can it move an aware and demanding consumer? Call it ‘trust’, ‘equity’ or ‘faith’, but with newer ways of reaching out to consumers, age old ‘trust’ still matters the most. As it is said every so often, brands need a soul to be truly great and trustworthy. And Coca-Cola did just that recently, through a soul-touching campaign called “Where will happiness strike next: The DFO project” (See video at the end of the article). BestMediaInfo talks to industry experts for their views.

Anisha Motwani

Director & CMO

Max New York Life Insurance

“Today the market in India is highly competitive and the competition is only growing every year which exposes the consumer to more choices than ever before for him to move on to the next brand. Also, with increased transparency and better governance systems, he is well aware of the facts and developments, hence building trust to keep your consumer is even more important.  With an overall trust deficit that one experiences in his/her day-to-day life be it news on terrorism, natural calamities or even the fluctuations in the financial markets, today it is ever so important for brands to provide that secure feeling or image to its consumers to be able to nurture a longstanding and fruitful relationship. I believe that building a brand is not done through marketing communication alone but also through reinforcement of the image at every touch point with customers. I also believe that marketing initiatives drive brand awareness and consideration, but brand equity and trust is built over time through positive customer experiences at all touch points with the company. Trust is a factor of Credibility, Reliability and Relationships and what takes away from this is the self-orientation factor.”

Naresh Gupta

Head – Brand Strategy


“We live in strange times. There are more sovereign nations that are likely to default on loans then corporations. This means today citizens can’t trust their own governmental institutions, how will they ever trust their brands? Today, consumer confidence has been eroded significantly. Brands have not remained insulated from this. Let’s evaluate the question of trust in two different contexts. One is when the slowdown had not happened and the world of brands was driven by trustful spending. The second is post the slowdown when spending became restrained; anxiety became a bigger driver of choice and thus thoughtful spending.

The trustful spending drove greater consumption where trust was the shortcut to choice. Post crisis, thoughtful spending drove better choices, and trust took a backseat. The pre-crisis consumerism was driven by a plethora of choices. Trust was the weapon that helped people cut through a maze of choices and plethora of brand messages. Brands became large when they became iconic. Trust was an integral part of brands’ march towards becoming icons. Together we all celebrated the consumerism. Post-crisis everything changed. It’s not that all of us stopped buying what we needed, but the buying became a little more considerate. The need to reflect on achievement and identity took other forms. Internet and online shopping became more value driven. Social media made people question even the most trusted brands.

Yesterday brands made me celebrate my identity, today we are seeking different experiences, different identities. Trust is a remnant of the past when brands held a much larger place in our lives. We are living in changing times where society is transforming. We are connecting with each other differently, technology is changing how we shop, media is fragmenting and status is not a driver any more. Trust has expired and is beyond its use by date.”

Ramanujam Sridhar

Founder CEO


The definition of brand is sustained delivery of trust. This is not a textbook definition but an explanation to define how a good brand should be. Because of all the uncertainties and relationships, people are looking at reliability more than anything else. Particularly in the service category, people want to ensure from the brand owner that their experience is reliable. They just can’t sit back and enjoy what they did last year. And if people have more and more access to media today, like if I have an unpleasant experience today, I have a blog where I can vent out my feelings. So, if a brand promises something and doesn’t deliver, it will be caught up. It’s becoming extremely critical in today’s Internet age – as a consumer I have more rights today. Therefore, brands and brand owners cannot afford to be untrustworthy. They need to keep delivering every time.

Harish Bijoor


Harish Bijoor Consults

Essentially a human being is a trust seeking entity. So whatever a human being does, whether it is getting into any relationship or buying or selling, he or she sees trust as a very basic factor. And it’s one of the reasons why trust is a very important element of any branding. All customers seek trust. The reality is trusted, not hype; so brands have to get their advertising right by way of understanding the consumer’s language. They need to leverage realistic advertising rather than emotional appeal.

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