The most important quality that you need to develop as part of your brand strategy is consumer trust in your brand promise. In other words, consumers need to trust that your brand will deliver on its promise in every interaction, or they’ll turn away from your brand in search of one that does meet their expectations and delivers on its promise again and again.

Think of a brand that you trust will meet your expectations every time you purchase and use it. Due to that level of trust, you’re probably loyal to that brand and choose it over others. You might even be extremely loyal to that brand and go out of your way to find it if it’s not available at the store where you usually buy it. Your loyalty to that brand might even lead you to recommend the brand to your friends and family members. You might even talk about that brand regardless of whether someone asks you about it or not.

For example, how many times have you heard a loyal Apple customer talk about how great his iPhone or iPad is over the past few years? Whether or not you asked his opinion, he probably couldn’t help but talk about his love for his iPhone or iPad. That’s a perfect example of brand loyalty, which developed at least in part from brand trust — trust that the iPhone or iPad will meet his expectations and that the overall Apple brand will deliver on its brand promise in every interaction he has with it.

Brand trust and loyalty apply to all markets and industries. When you trust the service your accountant delivers, you’re loyal to him or her (and to his or her brand) and recommend that accountant to other people. When you buy a car from a dealership that treats you well, you’re likely to trust that dealership to provide similar service to other people. Therefore, you’ll probably recommend that dealership and even buy another car there in the future for yourself.

The key to understanding how brand trust leads to brand loyalty and brand advocacy is this. Not only must a consumer trust that your brand will deliver on its promise in every interaction he or she has with it but also that it will deliver on its promise in any interactions that other people have with it.

Marketers need to focus on customer satisfaction, but trust is a foundation of a customer’s relationship with a brand. Without it, the brand is de-legitimised; the audience is less likely to interact with content and in turn, will invest their time in competing products or services.

Brands should not look at marketing solely as the ability to sell things, but as the conduit for building relationships. For reasons both emotional and practical, brands have to build a real connection, listen and take on board what is heard, prioritise the relationship itself, and deliver on the promises they make. Recent research shows there is a gap between what businesses believe trust means and what it means for consumers. So it’s important for businesses to communicate effectively with their audiences, whether through news articles, events, blogs, social media platforms or other vehicles.

Brand trust and interaction weigh heavily in customer decisions. The reason is simple: Actions speak louder than words. Brands that take on customer feedback are better positioned to build trust. It’s what a business chooses to do with customer feedback that really sets them apart.

The communication techniques used by brands to build trust today have to be more innovative to cater for a modern audience, which is more sceptical about branding messages. Delivering on brand promises has always been crucial but, in today’s digital culture fuelled by social media, failing to deliver can be a huge blow to a brand’s image.