RINGS OF TRUST
Customers discover and buy branded products or services in markets. However, the digital revolution has added new dimensions to how buyers discover and buy branded offerings.
This paper explores many of these dimensions and, in particular, how the digital revolution in markets has amplified the role of social networks and social media in the discovery, purchase, use, and, increasingly, the satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy of branded offerings.
The figure below depicts an important model called brandspace, emphasizing that consumer, business, or institutional customers position brands and branded offerings in terms of trust.
Trusted brands often express the social identities and affiliations of their customers.
Tribal brands reinforce the bonds of affection, plucking the strings of aspiration and bass chords and rhythms of belonging.
Go-to brands often represent dominant market leaders and the preferred choice of many if not most customers: broadly available, safe, and reliable products or services.
Switchable brands provide acceptable substitutes if the customer does not have access to the go-to brand or if the vendor offers discounts or other inducements.
Ambivalent brands have a presence in the market; however, customers may have lingering doubts or simply lack sufficient information about the trustworthiness of the branded offering.
Out-there brands as the label suggests represent branded offerings that customers recognize but lack any strong affiliation or desire to use: the brand does not engage the buyer.
Antimatter brands bear the fury and disgust of customers and stakeholders who feel irretrievably wronged, becoming an enemy of the tribe with no hope of redemption.
MEASUREMENT OF TRUST
Customers demonstrate their trust through the act of sharing personal and potentially damaging truthful information about themselves with another person, group, or organization.
Brands within each ring of brandspace will elicit some truthful information about the customer’s needs, preferences, and interests.
Each set of truthful information entails the expectation of a fair exchange of value—reciprocity or tit for tat—and ways to validate what constituted a fair exchange.
Brand marketers seeking deeper, more meaningful levels of customer engagement must respond in kind: these brand marketers must provide enhanced services or products.
In the era of the digital revolution, brand marketers must enhance core services or products with a burgeoning array of online services, interactive applications, and trusted introductions to other members of an aspirational trust network.
Thus, earning and keeping the trust of customers means eliciting the progressive disclosure of personal information by customers and the provisioning of all manner of digital services and applications.
have no champions, advocates, or mentors.
Unknown brands as the label indicates do not strike the customer as familiar or supported.
Distrusted brands garner negative publicity and word of mouth, damaging the reputations of all those affiliated with them.
Forewarned brands show up in markets with “this brand sucks” Web sites, blogs, and postings—measured by easily mined keywords and phrases from customer interviews and social media monitoring systems.
Brand markets measure trust by the depth of truthful information provided by customers and other stakeholders.