Brand Matters: Trust Me
Would you take a moment and reflect back on the companies that got the largest share of your wallet this past holiday season? Perhaps these companies are still top of mind as the bills are being paid for all those gifts and experiences: electronics, special foods, hotels and airfares, new clothes, toys and decorations.
What was memorable about any of those transactions? Expert advice? Excellent product selections? Personal and courteous service? Extraordinary value? Convenience? Brand reputation? Just why did those specific companies earn your holiday trust? Will they earn it again next holiday season?
Trust is an important component to building lasting relationships with your customers. Brand-builders need to spend time thinking about how trust is built (to woo new prospects), how it can be further strengthened (to increase market share) and how it can be lost (to proactively prevent!).
One company that I admire for continually looking for ways to deepen trust with its customers is financial services firm Charles Schwab. Known for its "Talk to Chuck" campaign, Schwab works hard at getting inside its customers' heads to truly understand why people are hesitant to do business with a brokerage firm. The firm figured out the "pain points" of potential prospects and crafted a long-running, sticky messaging campaign that speaks forthrightly to those concerns. I've used that very campaign as a model to encourage my clients to do that same work with their customers.
Recently, the brand-builders at Charles Schwab unveiled a further evolution of that trust-building campaign called "Fuel the Movement." Laurine Garrity, chief marketing officer and executive vice president at Charles Schwab, says this campaign is meant to purposefully address the fact that "consumers are looking for integrity and candor from their financial services firm. They want to be more engaged, especially in these turbulent times, but inertia and distrust are significant obstacles. With these new ads, we hope to make it clear that Schwab is a firm that will listen to clients and provide straightforward actionable ideas that make sense to them."
This is how it is described in the Schwab Talk blog:
Just like the first "Talk to Chuck" ads that launched six years ago, we truly mean what we say—good investing should start with a conversation. And we believe that it's our role to listen carefully to clients to understand their unique needs before doing anything else.
We believe that investors today want plain talk. That means tangible solutions for their specific situations and transparency about cost. In other words, people want something different than the standard Wall Street model. Pay attention to what the brand-builders at Schwab are paying attention to: integrity, candor, engagement, straightforward actionable ideas, conversation, plain talk, transparency, something different. The website easily allows prospects and customers to find out more about value, guidance, research and access … four areas of importance for financial services customers.
In addition, Schwab smartly turns to others to back up its promises … the industry and its clients. The financial services firm realizes that prospective customers are savvy and often need additional outside opinions from trustworthy sources. Schwab's website highlights its impressive ratings from places like SmartMoney, Kiplinger's and BusinessWeek. Schwab also let its "ClientsSpeak" and has created easy to read and scan headlines based on what matters most to its customers. Things like "help when I ask for it" and "confident and at peace" reinforce its trustworthy positioning.
Schwab folks are backing up their "TRUST US" promise with thoughtful and meaningful action throughout all touchpoints: print, Web, face-to-face meetings. Is your brand doing the same?
Why not conduct a "trust" review of your own messaging (both visual and verbal) and see what needs further strengthening, what needs deeper consumer insight, and what needs refreshing? Your customers have many things on their minds. How will your brand break out of the clutter and entice more of their share of mind? Of heart? Of wallet? How will you prove to them that they can really trust you?
Trust me, this is important work.
Andrea Syverson, author of "BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants," is president of IER Partners, a strategic branding and merchandising consultancy. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.