The volatile chemistry of trust

Interesting research from Stanford suggests that exciting brands get more trusted after making mistakes and putting them right whilst more "sincere" brands start with more trust but lose it more easily. Perhaps the sensible interpretation is that second-guessing customers can be a waste of time!
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

My friend in Portland Stanley Moss linked me to this interesting research from Stanford: Highly Trusted Brands Run More Risk of Offending Customers.

Researchers invented a new brand and presented it to two separate groups of consumers. One set got a version with a “sincere” brand personality; the others got an “exciting personality”. The former started emails with “Hello” and the latter with “Hey”. These personalities were carried through all the marketing material.

After a while, the researchers introduced a deliberate mistake in the service, corrected after a couple of days. After which reported “trust” in the sincere brand fell – but actually went up in the exciting brand.

You could look at this and try to form all sorts of explanations of the whys and wherefores. And try to calculate some kind of optimum brand personality and implement it.

My feeling is that could be a mistake. The chemistry of relationships is not easily predicted. I think the best thing is not to try to calculate a personality in the hopes of impressing customers; too difficult. Far better to find out what you really believe and care about as an organisation and present that, authentically. At least then you’ll stand a chance of feeling good. Second-guessing the customer can sometimes be a waste of energy.

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