What is it?
In short, "brand trust" is customer faith in particular brands as a result of said brands consistently delivering what they promise.
Brand trust absolutely must be earned, and it benefits companies by continually building a loyal customer base. Brand trust is what keeps businesses successfully running long-term and what keeps customers happy—so it is essential for all parties.
Threats to Brand Trust
Most sources peg a sharp decline in brand trust commencing around 2007-2008 on account of the massive economic recession in the United States (and worldwide, for that matter). This is likely because of budgetary corner-cutting and lack of transparency—of even blatant duplicity—on the part of big businesses. And while the economy is slowly improving, consumers have become increasingly skeptical of many brands as they search for the best cost-benefit ratio for their purchases. One such brand trust scandal involved Volkswagen lying about the integrity of their diesel fuel engines in order to compete with other companies who were better meeting United States emissions standards. While Volkswagen initially benefitted greatly from its spike in sales, it later surfaced that these engines emitted nitrogen oxide pollutants drastically over United States standards. Not only was customer faith in Volkswagen severely compromised, so was the environment; thus, deception in marketing can have large-scale ramifications in addition to threatening brand trust.
How and Why Threats to Brand Trust Occur
First, globalization has led to the proliferation of new brands and products and this has driven fierce competition that leads businesses to risk consumer trust for immediate profit. Second, the drastic increase in technology and innovation often leaves consumers confused and disenchanted with particular brands as they may not understand the actual purpose of these technologies and innovations. Third, the use of technology has, on the converse, put message control into the customers' hands through the form of online reviews for products and services—and these reviews can quickly damage businesses reputations. Finally, corporate greed is a legitimate beast and does occasionally eclipse entrepreneurial integrity.
What Can Be Done to Increase Brand Trust
Big businesses and corporations must exercise critical patience and must set very long-term goals, as turning a quick profit is almost always aided by some form of duplicity or at least opacity. Brand trust takes time and resources, and the cost of losing it can be fatal for businesses. On the other hand, consumers should do their homework by seeking out reputable sources for product reviews, reading many reviews of products and services, and comparison shopping before committing to purchases of consequence. Overall, it bears repeating that brand trust must be earned through the ongoing process of forthright business practices.