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Business Week has an interesting piece noting that “in the world of branding, trust is the most perishable of assets. Polling in recent months shows that increasing numbers of consumers distrust not just the obvious suspects - the banks - but business as a whole. In a phone survey conducted from May 26 to July 3 by public relations firm Edelman, only 44% of Americans said they trusted business, down from 58% in the fall of 2007,” a shift in attitudes that is compelling a number of companies “to tweak marketing and focus on rebuilding credibility.”

One of the things that has happened according to the article, is that the rise of new media has allowed a wide range of companies – from conglomerates to independents – to compete in terms of “share of voice,” and major companies are finding that it makes sense to focus on trust – also known as brand equity - as a differential advantage that small concerns to not necessarily share. And the focus on trust is not just seen as a public relations initiative, but a quality that must be imbued in every level of a product’s development, manufacture and marketing.
KC's View:
While the companies cited most prominently in the Business Week article are a car company (Ford) and a financial services company (American Express) – two categories that have been particularly hard hit when it comes to trust and dependability – it seems to me that this ought to be a central concern for virtually every company, whether in retailing or manufacturing.

Remember the old Latin proverb? “Trust, like the soul, never returns once it goes.”

One other thing to remember… crisis management consultant Eric Dezenhall tells Business Week, "Trust-related marketing only works if there is a message that people want to believe in. You cannot spin an audience that doesn't want to be spun."

Good point.