• Daman Soni

Building Trust in the Brand - Startup Version

Newly minted startups, how can you get users to trust your brand?


In early days, unless users are personally recommended to your business, they are unlikely to trust your company after one or two interactions given that you have only launched your product recently. Instead, they require multiple touchpoints across various channels; combined with social proof and trust elements in order to take the plunge. Building a robust product is table stakes. Startups will need to do more.

Brand: “A person's perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.”

With genuine, consistent interactions, you can earn a user’s trust over time. It takes a lot of time and hard work. Once you make it a priority and follow the ideas below, you can build a brand that results in loyal customers and promotes new customer acquisition.


1. Speak to customers in an authentic, human voice

Keep the content or copy conversational so that the messages are an extension of the actual people behind the brand. Building brand trust as a new company is much like a new friendship, a conversational tone will help build a friend-like trust. Finding your brand’s tone of voice starts with understanding who your audience is & figuring out the right language to reach them. Keep your brand values in mind when creating content and communicating with your readers.


Figure out your brand’s voice with this exercise.


Action items:

  • Keep copy consistent across all communication mediums and interactions

  • Create an about us page with team pictures

  • Giving team members a voice on social media

  • Share behind the scene videos and pics

  • Share Screenshots of upwardly moving metrics


2. Treat the first clients like VIP

Go above and beyond for client 1 to 1000. Build a strong connection with them. Solicit their feedback. Generate reviews and make them feel that the product will evolve due to their feedback. Respond swiftly on an issue raised. Putting real effort into making your clients & customers feel special can have amazing rewards for your business. It will not only make your customers feel special, but it will make your company special as a result.


However, you also don’t want to suffocate your customers. Don’t cross the line by bombarding them with emails.


Action Items:

  • Each senior management and product team member should talk to at least 3 customers every day

  • Create personalised welcome kits for the initial users. Roll out the red carpet.


3. Capture founder authenticity

Tell the founder story to capture the obstacles faced, insights, passion and grit that went into building the product. Share the journey of the finished product to build a connection with involved users. Building a startup is hard very hard. Companies increasingly share the stories behind their brand's founding to engage consumers. Values underlying a founder's motivation to start a business influence the perceived authenticity of the brand


Action Items

  • Backstory blogs by founder

  • Show the iterations of screens and designs to make the user feel what went into building the product

  • Share the values doc with the public so that they understand the long term vision of the company


4. Build social proof

Social proof is essentially a tool that lets your customers build trust in your offerings. Nothing builds trust better than when a friend recommends a product or when you see a badge of recognition or view millions of people using the product. Generating a positive word of mouth helps in spreading your brand's message via users.


Action Items

  • Video testimonials

  • Counter for no of users signed up on the app (at a later stage with bigger numbers)

  • Third-party Reviews

  • Press coverage

  • Investor Logos

  • Security certificates and badges

  • Reply to reviews on play store

  • Opinion leader and friendly celebrity endorsements

More on social proof here



5. Offer great customer service

Show that the brand is honest and dependable with prompt customer service. Send thank-you notes for feedback received. Every time a company makes a customer repeat themselves, wait on hold for a long time, fill out mountains of paperwork or do any other frustrating task, that customer loses a little bit of trust in the company. Focusing on each customer individually early on instead of rushing to get things done can help create a long-term relationship of trust.


Action Items

  • Figure out the customer service ethos

  • System and process for thank you notes


6. Create an experience

Marketers don't create brands, people do. Provide the context for users to drive the brand. Events, (virtual & real) meetups will play a key role here.


Action Items:

  • Devise a strategy for users to interact and reinforce positive feedback


7. Create content which addresses users’ problems

Create quality content which resonates well with the users. 80% of your content should be useful and non-promotional while the other 20% can talk about your product. By providing reliable and insightful content, rather than a sales pitch, you will nurture a sense of trust in the brand. (think IKEA)


Action Item:

  • Content strategy and calendar across social and blog


8. Build offbeat campaigns with engages wider audience

Create noteworthy campaigns which create earned media (think uber puppies). Use the element of surprise to wow the user. Get users talking about the brand with passion and excitement.


Action Items

  • Brainstorm ideas. Figure out budget and execution

In conclusion, building trust in the brand is essential for growth. It needs to be a focus area from Day Zero. The company's people, process, systems and communication need to be aligned to build trust with the user.


Know any more ideas that can be added to this list? Add them in the comments.

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