Trust in brands seems to be in short supply lately. While companies struggle to find their footing, consumers see broken promises, insincerity and, in too many cases, tone deafness.

As grandma used to say, it may not be your fault, but it is your problem.

We recently came across a talk by Greg Icenhower – a brand builder, communication strategist and leadership coach – on how trust is built in times of crisis. Applying these lessons to your brand is a must in gaining the trust of your customers and the public.

In times like this, your brand’s greatest strength is empathy. Communication should happen from the outside in, meaning brands should spend more time listening and meeting the needs of others, rather than driving their own agenda. This is what makes people feel like they matter, and it’s what builds loyalty.

During the talk, Icenhower shared 5 drivers of trust in communication. Brands that follow these principles in all interactions and touchpoints – sales and marketing, transactions, support, marketing, paperwork – will come out the other side of this crisis with a strong cache of trust and goodwill.

CLARITY: Be crystal clear and simple – so clear that your message can’t possibly be misunderstood. This demonstrates respect and understanding, and shows that your brand “gets” their point of view. 

CANDOR: People can take it; they want the truth, even if it’s bad news. Brands they trust are honest and straightforward and have their best interest at heart, above all else.

CONTEXT: Take time to explain “why” and help them see the bigger picture, as well as the gritty details. A peek behind the curtain goes a long way to creating confidence. Transparency gives customers a deeper understanding and appreciation of your brand.

CONVICTION: People want to know what you stand for – and stand against. They’re looking for brands with high character and a fair amount of backbone. They want to know that you buy what you’re saying; the surest way to do this is to truly and consistently live your values.

COMPASSION: Above all, show that your brand cares. Consumers need to know that you care about them and their lives. Actions speak louder than ever.

Your customers crave information, perspective and assurance. Knowing how trust happens will help you make the right decisions for your brand’s long-term survival.