Where's Your Wobble? Why Brand Trust Is a Must.

Author: Erin Robinson
Posted: Aug 25, 2022

Recently at VI, we did an exercise from the Harvard School of Business that revolved around the three main drivers of trust: authenticity, logic, and empathy. After splitting up into groups, we first identified our own “wobble,” AKA which component of the “trust triangle” is our weakest. Then, we weighed in on each other’s areas for improvement. Admittedly, the exercise was a bit uncomfortable for some, but it’s stuck with me — and it’s extremely relevant for brands and the content they produce.

Oftentimes, we don’t realize the myriad ways our relationships with brands mirror those with our friends — but if you sit with it for a moment, they’re pretty similar. We trust the brands that align most closely with our own moral code and beliefs. This is why it’s important for marketers to really examine the content we’re putting out and ask ourselves, “Are we building trust with our audiences?” Because awareness of your brand or message matters, but ultimately, it won’t move the needle without trust. Here’s why.

The Intersection of Trust and Brand Equity2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report

Trust is more important than ever before. In 2021, the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report entitled Trust, The New Brand Equity surveyed 14,000 consumers in 14 countries, and the results speak volumes about the public’s expectations of the brands they’ll support. Whereas brands used to play in the sandbox around culture, they’re now expected to meet consumers in the cross-section of culture, society, and purpose in a relevant way. 50% of high-income consumers report that they will no longer buy products from a brand that they love if they don’t trust the company. So how can your brand cultivate trust within your audience? Let’s revisit the triangle exercise.

The Three Sides of Trust

To build or regain trust, a brand must be willing and able to evaluate — and address — its greatest weakness, or “wobble.” According to Harvard Business School, “People tend to trust you when they think they are interacting with the real you (authenticity), when they have faith in your judgment and competence (logic) and when they believe that you care about them (empathy). When trust is lost, it can almost always be traced back to a breakdown in one of these three drivers.” Taking a thorough, honest look at your true brand position will allow you to identify your wobble, which is the first step toward building stronger connections with your audience.

To start, ask yourself these questions in three key areas:


1. Does your brand follow through on promises?
2. Does your brand stay true to its message or shift and sway at a moment's notice?
A brand must be upfront about its motives and objectives — and then, deliver on its promises. No one likes to be duped.

1. Are your products, services, or information solid?
2. Are the claims you make about them reputable?

Let your actions speak louder than your ads. Don’t just claim authority on a subject. Demonstrate it — time and time again.

1. Does your audience feel understood?
2. Are you depicting the experience they’ll have with your service or product in an honest way?

For example, if the Shape Your Future brand tells parents they can easily make a recipe in 20 minutes but then hires a food stylist to get the perfect shot, they may lose the ability to connect with these parents in an approachable way. As you can see, it takes emotional intelligence for brands to hit the empathy mark.

Trust is a currency that’s becoming more valuable every day — and it’s the pillar of any brand with true staying power. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and take a deep dive into your own brand, our savvy marketing strategists would love to walk you through our intensive Brand Dig process and help address any obstacles that are standing in your way.



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