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The Role of Trust in Reputation Management  

· Trust,Brand reputation

In recent research for our Reputational Risk Radar 2024, we asked business leaders in the UK about their key areas of focus for 2024 when it comes to protecting and promoting brand reputation.

Building trust with customers ranked among the top three priorities, coming in closely behind ensuring compliance with relevant regulation and delivering quality products and services.

Trust was a theme that came up repeatedly in the study, and there is industry research to back up its new prominence, with 71% of consumers saying it’s more important to trust the brands they buy or use today than in the past.i There’s also evidence that high trust companies outperform their sector in terms of stock performance.ii

In fact, according to a leading industry report on this topic in 2023, trust has become the “new growth engine for brands” with old models, such as the marketing purchase funnel, now seen as outdated and too linear, since “purchase is no longer the end point but the start of an ongoing relationship with the consumer”. iii

Factors impacting brand reputation and trust

In our nationwide consumer survey,iv 26% said their trust in a brand would be most impacted if they became aware a company was facing financial difficulties, making this the number one concern.

This may be a legacy from the COVID-19 pandemic, where consumers witnessed many big brand names collapse and perhaps now feel more cautious about a company’s financial

Service issues also ranked highly with consumers, as they did for businesses, coming in as the second most important concern for both. Poor customer service – such as service failures, low customer ratings and poor communication – would have the biggest impact on brand trust for 22% of consumers, according to the independent research.

“It’s essential to make sure people know your product or service delivers on its promise,” said Jacqueline Dewey, CEO of financial review website Smart Money People. “Showcasing positive customer reviews is a great way to build credibility, whilst regular communications at all stages of the customer journey play a key role in building long-lasting trust and strong customer relationships.”

Compliance was also high on the agenda for both businesses and consumers. The C-suite leaders surveyed cited this as their greatest reputational risk, whilst for consumers, it made the top three, with a fifth (20%) saying their trust in a company would be impacted most if they read about, or were affected by, any legal or regulatory concerns.

Philip Naughton, CEO of compliance consultancy Cosegic, said: “There’s been significant evolution in the role compliance plays in supporting a firm’s strategic objectives, and that’s going to continue, given the ongoing intense regulatory pressures that businesses face.”

Unsurprisingly, data breaches would also impact trust if personal data was compromised, with 19% of consumers saying this would have the biggest impact. Only 6% placed cyber attacks impacting service as being the most detrimental to trust, which perhaps illustrates the inevitability attributed to cyber attacks today.

However, given that executives placed cyber attacks much higher on their list of concerns, the more relaxed attitude from consumers could also be seen as a reflection of the increasingly sophisticated security measures that businesses are implementing to help limit the impacts.

With trust now playing such a key role in business strategy, it’s essential to create multi-faceted communications and marketing campaigns that can be utilised across various areas. This will deliver efficiencies, streamlining costs and resource, whilst also supporting consistent communications and clear brand positioning.

Read Amp’s report for more details, or get in touch to find out how we can help build trust and promote your brand.


i Top 10 Findings, Edelman Trust Barometer 2023

ii Trust is Tangible, 2019,Edelman

iii Trust and Brands: The Collapse of the Purchase Funnel, 2023, Edelman Trust Institute

iv Based on an independent surveyof 2,000 UK consumers, February 2024