Brand belief is important. Belief leads to brand loyalty, which leads to sustained brand success. I believe it’s being threatened.
A while back I wrote a blog about how a healthy relationship equals a healthy brand. I stated that the number one tenet of a healthy client/agency relationship was “belief”: “Simply put, you have to believe that we can help you and we have to believe in you.”
Belief is also vital in a client/customer relationship.
Belief is defined as an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. But with an abundance of alternative facts, fake news, conspiracy theories, and disinformation, belief is harder to find and even harder to gain. Civil discourse is suffering, social posts become vitriolic battlegrounds, and internet trolling and fake news posting are actual jobs. It’s not an overstatement – check your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The air is thick with hostility and distrust. “Belief” isn’t gone, but a lot of it seems to be steeped in self-righteous indignation and single-issue ideology. Belief is being weaponized, and trust is in crisis.
Trust in our major institutions (government, media, business, etc.) has been rattled to the point that people feel the systems no longer work for them. Brands are part of this increasingly toxic climate. Trust in brands has faded dramatically (hello Volkswagen), particularly with millennials.
What can we do as brand managers and marketers?
Be who you truly are, and don’t be afraid to show it. The term “Transparency” is practically white noise now, but it is still true. Honesty goes a long way to building brand belief and the brand loyalty that follows. It might take a bit of work to uncover your organizational culture, your true values, or your authentic voice. Building authenticity in your brand pays off in the long term. It offers your audience every opportunity to engage, research, connect, and believe in your brand.
Make it personal
Engage your audience like the real, feeling, thinking people they are. People aren’t numbers. People relate to authentic conversation, not marketing speak, overly technical jargon, platitudes or bulleted lists of features. Have a conversation with people, one that includes listening, too.
Keep it simple and clear
People’s attention spans are limited and pulled in many directions. I’ve heard this since I started in this business. It holds true even more so today. Simple and clear messaging is approachable and comprehensible. Even the most complex product or service can be simplified for consumption without dumbing it down. It doesn’t mean that you sacrifice balance or detail. For those who are truly interested in your brand or your product, you can provide next-level depth and granular detail. On the face of it, make things clear.
Brand belief is rooted in authenticity, clarity, and perhaps most importantly, consistency. I’ve seen too many good clients take the brands we built, together, and start to change things within a year. Whether it is the language you use, the colors you fly, the way your logo is displayed, or your pricing structure, nothing erodes belief like inconsistency.
Look the look
Everyone in business has heard that you need to walk the walk to be successful. You also need to look the look. Your brand identity (name, logo, tagline, website, etc) needs to truly represent who you are as a brand. In turn, your brand needs to live up to your identity.
These are just a handful of things you can do to build and maintain brand belief at a time in which mistrust is spreading. In the end, people are going to believe what they choose. But you can manage how your brand acts and reacts.
If you believe it, there is a good chance I’ll believe it.
Oh, and if you want to take on current social or cultural landmines in your marketing, make sure your take is on-brand. Without naming names, some of the Super Bowl ads missed that mark. Dove’s recent print ad was pretty clever though (no matter which side you are on).