Does corporate trust have to be an oxymoron?

Brands are based on trust. Corporations extract enormous value from the relationships they have with suppliers, employees, partners and customers. Yes, it's possible to trust a corporation, we do it all the time. But it's not free.

The two key choices a brand makes to be trusted in the long run:

1. You will postpone profit-taking. There are always shortcuts available to you, always ways to make money sooner rather than later, plenty of chances to do a little less or charge a little more.

2. You will do things that are difficult. We know it’s not easy or convenient for you to keep every promise, especially the little ones. That it’s expensive or a hassle or emotionally risky for you to extend yourself and your brand, but that’s where the trust is earned.

And so, when people on your team say things like, “due to unusually heavy call volume,” “we sold your data, the fine print in our terms and conditions says we can,” “I’m sorry, but my hands are tied,” “Well, because you complained, just this one time I’ll have our executive response team get involved, but don’t ask us to do it again,” “It doesn’t matter what the contract says, this is all we can do,” “I know Bob told you that, but he doesn’t work here anymore,” “Sure, we used to do that, but too many people took advantage of us and we can’t do it for you,” or, most common of all, silence, then yes, we trust you less. That's because we really prefer to trust people, and when people act to deny their humanity, we trust them less.

It’s easy to seduce yourself into believing that you can be trusted at the same time you take short-term profits and cut corners when it suits you. Alas, that’s not going to happen. 

Trust is expensive and trust is worth it.