August 28th, 2015
When venture capitalists invest in startup companies, they bankroll the founding teams, not their products. It’s about trust.
Invariably, the executives will have to cope with, adapt to, and overcome unknowns, wrong assumptions, and marketplace vicissitudes.
Despite not sharing a lot of details at this point, the popularity of Donald Trump is constantly rising: voters trust him to execute, come what may, because of his presence, resilience, and past successes. His brand is strong.
Accordingly, the swiftness with which customers whip out their credit cards to make purchases is a function of trust.
Newsflash: trust is a key element of a supplier’s brand — its value proposition. Trust is part of the whole customer experience. It follows that a CEO subordinating brand to product is imperiling trust.
If a customer doesn’t hesitate to swipe his credit card, trust is high; the vendor’s brand is strong.
Conversely, if a purchaser dithers before using her credit card, the trust is low; the vendor’s brand is weak.
Ever hear of Tasting Rao’s? It’s the single-toughest restaurant reservation in the country. Why? No menu. Great food. They’ll make whatever you want. It’s all about the customer — the trusting customer. That is a strong brand!
Why do people line up around the block, for hours, to purchase Apple’s latest product? They trust Apple’s brand: its reputation for delivering quality and cool, and for being unique.
Is this trust permanent? Of course not. If Apple starts mistreating its customers in any way, delivering garbage, and/or becoming generic, that goodwill and trust will evaporate — along with its brand — very rapidly.
When I call a supplier’s tech support and am put on-hold for 35 minutes, and then talk to an inept rep, my blood boils and trust wanes. This is a common brand-killing experience; many CEOs are clueless that it happens in their product-focused companies.
Parting Advice to CEOs
Remember: The universal customer motto is In Brand We Trust — not “In Product We Trust.”
Engender trust by making branding your #1 priority. Then, and only then, will you know how to treat customers, hire the right employees, and deliver the desired solutions.
POSTSCRIPT #1: Ron Fournier: I don’t know if I can trust Hillary Clinton anymore
About the Author
Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.
© 2015 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.