Brands as a Relationship: Why Building Trust is Crucial for Success

According to the AMA the definition of a brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers.

That definition misses the mark. A brand is more than just an object or marketing materials meant to differentiate itself in the marketplace.  It’s a connection, a perception, a feeling and thought, a relationship forged when the parties involved share common values. 

Traditionally the relationship between a brand and a consumer is an asymmetrical one. The brand makes the product and the masses consume it without any input into how the product is created. Today, relationships between brands and consumers are more collaborative and reciprocal. Consumers have become creators and  brand ambassadors, helping brands expand influence and increase visibility across their core target markets.

Building a successful brand requires a relationship with customers based on trust, authenticity, and consistency. Just like any relationship, a brand-customer relationship is built over time and requires effort and attention. Companies need to consistently deliver on their promises and provide quality products or services that meet their customers’ needs and expectations. They also need to communicate effectively and authentically with their customers, and show that they care about their concerns and feedback.

So, what does it mean for a brand to be in a relationship with its customers?

First and foremost, it means that customers expect more than just a transactional experience. They want to feel valued, heard, and appreciated. They want to know that the brand they are doing business with cares about them beyond their wallets. This requires brands to go beyond just a one way seller-customer relationship and instead focus on building meaningful connections with their customers. 

How to build relationships with consumers?

Honesty and Transparency. One way to do this is by being transparent and authentic. This means clarity about pricing, policies and messaging. It also means admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for them. Brands that are honest and open with their customers are more likely to build relationships based on trust and loyalty. 

A brand perceived as trustworthy  can grow their business  with influencer marketing by leveraging influencers and athletes to communicate messages in a meaningful way to communities that trust them.

Meeting Customer Expectations. Another way to build a successful brand-customer relationship is by consistently delivering on promises. This includes providing high-quality products or services, meeting customer expectations, and providing exceptional customer service. When customers feel that a brand consistently delivers on its promises, they are more likely to complete a purchase, and recommend that brand to others.

Communication. Social media has become an important tool for brands to build and maintain relationships with their customers. Social media platforms allow brands to communicate with customers on a personal level, share their brand story, and respond to customer inquiries and feedback. This can help build a sense of community around your brand and foster deeper relationships with customers. These relationships are invaluable because they create actively engaged consumers who develop a sense of attachment and remain loyal even in the face of challenges or competition.

So who’s doing a good job? 

Brands like Bombas socks have developed  emotional relationships with  customers by sharing  in their desire to make the world a better place. For every item purchased a clothing-item is donated to a shelter or charity. Emotional connections between brands and consumers are empowering and lead to being top of mind when making purchasing decisions.

By providing personalization and collaborative locations for customers to gather and engage in conversation, brands like Starbucks have helped to foster a passionate community around coffee. Starbucks has formed a bond with its customers that incites positive action and a favorable perception of their business. 

Nike is another brand that has created a strong relationship with its consumers by playing the role of motivator around the world. For years, Nike has leveraged the power of athlete marketing to amplify its message of motivation throughout the world. Its slogan says it all. JUST DO IT. 

In conclusion, brands that focus on building meaningful relationships with customers are more likely to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. By being transparent and authentic, delivering on promises, and using social media to communicate with customers, the brand-customer relationship can become stronger and more meaningful, over time. This can lead to repeat business, positive word-of-mouth, and increased profitability.

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