Building Brand Trust with Design

by Eric Tsai

Today I came across John Gerzema‘s article on The Trust Virus outlining the correlation between trust and brands. It mentioned the current fear and uncertainty in this recession is due to the lack of trust, thus our current economic meltdown was accelerated by the distrust in the failed banks, unregulated financial system, Bernie Madoff, and unproductive automakers.

I believe emotion trumps logic and trust is comfort (an emotion) but needs facts to support that logic. This is why design always has a function, a goal, a need to earn that trust.

iPod ShuffleThe perfect example would be Apple, which ironically released its latest iPod shuffle today with half the size of the last generation but with twice the capacity.  You can always expect something new and uniquely different,  Steve Jobs never fails to fuel the brand with brand awareness, effective marketing and yes, trust – trust that Apple will deliver a sexy product with style and functionality.

Apple focuses on the ultimate user experience to build their brand equity by creating products that their customers don’t even know they need, that’s trust.  Trust that Apple will give you an exciting show, the unique style you want, the engaging experience you deserve, all for a price tag to set them (and you) apart from the rest.  Even if the product falls short in some ways, the faith in its brand is enough to overcome the logic.

Form and function are no doubt the fundamentals of design, but marketing and branding are the next barrier to compete for consumer trust.  Design is conceptualizing the idea then deliver the user experience to earn trust for the desirable outcome – selling the idea while creating awareness.  At the end you are the best sales person for a brand, wouldn’t you recommend ‘your trusted brands’ to your family and friends?

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