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Thursday, Sep 02, 2004

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Six steps to brand credibility

Jagdeep Kapoor

How do you get your brand to be tried, tested and trusted? Read on.

CONSUMERS buy brands because they believe in them. This is true for a branded product or a branded service. When consumers don't trust a brand they do not buy or consume it. One of the biggest reasons for people buying a brand repeatedly is the credibility the brand has among the consumers.

In brand building, credibility is vital to the success of any brand.

Today consumers are focusing on tried, tested and trusted brands.

Benefits of this module of brands are:

  • Have a longevity of 100 years and more

  • Have built tremendous amount of equity

    Tried: In my nine brand shaastras, `Deed Shaastra' is the most important for trials, and for that, you need:

  • Why - Mental Sampling

  • Try - Physical Sampling

  • Buy - Financial Sampling

    Tested: It means that it has been used for a long period of time. It is as per my `Feed Shaastra.' It involves:

  • Width of consumption: There is an increase in the number of people using the product. For example, if a mother using a health pill has her children, husband and in-laws also take it.

  • Depth of consumption: It means an increase in the quantum. For example, if one person was having half a pill, an increase in depth would occur when he takes a full one.

  • Increase in frequency: For example, when the user consumes two pills instead of one a day.

    Trusted: Trust comes through credibility and efficacy. It comes by performing in a consistent and regular manner.

    There are many brands which claim to provide various benefits. However, a consumer does not believe these claims easily. He needs credibility.

    With the market being flooded with brands, consumers are anxious to gauge the authenticity of the claims made by companies.

    Many companies have taken consumers for a ride by making false claims or misleading them. This has led to an atmosphere of suspicion at the consumer level, be it a corporate consumer, a child, a housewife or a senior citizen. This makes it all the more important for a brand to make honest and correct claims so that people believe in it.

    How do you build credibility in your brand? The answer is shown in a six-step process I recommend.

    The first element in the six-step recommendation is to make sure that you have a good product and a good service which gives benefits to the consumer and is valued by her. This is crucial because only a good product or a good service can become a good credible brand. If the product itself is bad, no amount of advertising can lend it credibility. In fact, things could backfire and it could land up being not only a waste of money but a waste of time.

    The second step is to ensure that the product or service experience during usage by the consumer is positive. This leads to the consumer recalling the brand pleasantly. It is often said that the true taste of the pudding is in the eating. Similarly, consumers believe in a product when they have a positive experience with it. No amount of claims would give credibility as much as a pleasant brand experience where the consumer experiences the brand.

    The third step is to ensure regular and consistent customer satisfaction and not just a one-off good experience. Credibility is built over a period of time. People believe in your brand if they constantly get good utility and value from it. Inconsistent performance or not providing regular service leads to irregularity, which could lead to customers not having faith in your brands.

    The fourth step in my recommended strategy is to make sure that your brand meets and delivers the promise it makes to the customers. There should not be a case of over-promise even if you have a very good product or service. Over-promise reduces reliability leading to discontent, thereby affecting credibility.

    The fifth step would be to provide evidence in the form of facts or statistics to make the consumer believe in the benefits offered.

    The final and the sixth element of my recommended strategy for credibility is generating good word-of-mouth publicity wherein satisfied customers speak well of you informally or formally through testimonials. This definitely enhances credibility.

    Customers hate being misled. Make a genuine mistake and chances are that they will not hold it against you. So long as a brand professional is sincere, chances are that the customer won't mind an honest error. But the customer must be absolutely sure that the brand professional is acting purely in his best interests.

    A brand professional who is genuine and sincere can be said to be `pure.' He acts without ulterior motives. He makes sure that the entire brand experience is transparent and practises it without deception. His customers trust him implicitly and often follow his advice blindly because of the faith he has instilled in them. His advice is normally sound and on the off-chance that he makes a mistake, his customers are more than willing to forgive and forget.

    To portray the pure brand professional more accurately, perhaps it would do well to contrast him with his opposite. This person would be fake, his concern for customers superficial. He would be a confidence trickster who would take his customers for a ride because he is not really interested in them coming back to him again and again.

    The dividing line between the two is a fine one but it is easy to spot. The pure brand professional is the real thing and customers can easily identify him. Once they do, they cling to him because he is as rare as a real diamond. And they trust him implicitly.

    Customers trust the pure brand professional with their lives, their money, their important travel schedules, their children. It is important to note that the pure customer service professional would never betray this trust that he has so painstakingly built up in his customers.

    Thus in branding building credibility is vital! Be tried, tested and trusted.

    (The author is Managing Director of Samsika Marketing Consultancy.)

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