Developing a trust strategy for your brand, and how to measure it


Looking back at 2020 and into 2021 – change and disruption remains fundamental. Some elements of our marketing landscape are consistent, but many trends have accelerated, some dynamics are completely different and none of us can predict what is round the corner.

Brands face heightened demands from consumers to do and say more, solving both individual needs and societal challenges – this is new territory for many. Knowing when, where and how a brand should step in takes careful consideration. Therefore, having a nuanced understanding of the permission space has never been more critical to meeting expectations. And permission starts with Trust.

Edelman have long believed in the importance of trust and its role in building reputation and supporting commercial objectives.

Today, trust defines brands, and this affects a brands entire relationship with its consumers.

Edelman’s research in to Brand Trust shows trusted brands enjoy multiple benefits, including:

  • More loyalty and engagement.
  • Accelerating consumers along the marketing funnel. Nearly 1 in 3 loyal customers have a brand relationship built on the strongest trust level.
  • Trust is second only to price when people are choosing whether to buy a new brand.
  • It creates stickiness: 75% of those with high brand trust will only buy that brand in the category.
  • It is the key to building lasting relationships with customers

Many brands today know roughly whether they are trusted or distrusted. But without specific and detailed knowledge – why, and which drivers of trust are strong or weak – a brand can’t protect and build trust effectively. As such, a conscious and deliberate effort to build consumer trust is required, as is the need to measure it. Marketers and communicators can’t improve what they don’t measure. A brand needs to have a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of trust and how it plays out in their category in order to define a trust strategy, and a clear roadmap of the actions to build over time.

But it’s not easy. Trust is complicated. It is based on a deep understanding of people, and a deep understanding of the dynamics of trust. With these elements, you can plot a path forward. You can gain permission to solve individual needs and societal challenges effectively, and grow the brand in people’s hearts, minds, and wallets.

It’s important to go beyond transactional and static brand management approaches. These often use outdated data points that don’t reflect the reality of today or have enough agility to adapt to tomorrow.

After 20 years of studying Trust, Edelman have developed a trust management system. Working with renowned academics and business leaders, using new stated survey data from 6+ markets, behavioural and transactional data, and sophisticated analytics. Trust Management for Brands (ETM Brand) helps brands understand where they are today, benchmarks competitors and develops a roadmap and tracks across a full range of sectors and industries. This roadmap shows where brands need to go to build strong and lasting relationships that drive business success and earn even more trust.

We have identified five trust-driving dimensions. These are the most important drivers that can have the biggest impact. Focus here, to build trust.

  1. Ability: Functional trust. Is the brand good at what it does? Is it competent?
  2. Dependability: Transactional trust. Does the brand keep its promises? Is it reliable?
  3. Integrity: Moral and ethical trust. Is the brand honest?
  4. Purpose: Societal and environmental trust. Is the brand having a positive impact on society overall?
  5. Self: Personal trust. Is it relevant to people? Does it resonate emotionally?

In addition to these fixed dimensions, this new tool can also create custom metrics based on a brand’s specific business, challenges, objectives, and opportunities. These metrics provide sharp and precise diagnostics based on a brand’s unique operating environment, benchmarking to competitors.

Stay tuned for a series of deep dives on trust in different categories, published on WARC. These will uncover key learnings for CMOs specific to their category to build trust in the world today.

 Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +971 50 6254340 or mail: or visit

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