What drives brand loyalty?

Posted by John Aves

Last week Marketing reported the top ten, most trusted brands in the UK. The list makes fascinating reading. The AA, the Post Office and Boots occupy the top three slots with Google, the RAC, M&S, Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Johnson’s Baby, Fairy and Dulux following quickly behind.

There were a number of things that struck me about the list.

  • – With the exception of Google, all the brands have been around for a long time during which they have developed a consistent positioning. A long history on its own is not sufficient to generate customer trust. Just look at the banks, many of which have been around for hundreds of years and as an industry are about as trusted as politicians, estate agents and second hand car dealers.
  • – The trust we have in the top ten companies seems to have more to do with who they are, what they stand for and how they behave rather than what they sell. As individuals we trust people who tell the truth, who listen to what we have to say and show an interest in us, who behave in a fair and ethical way and who don’t let us down. These qualities that we value at a personal level apply equally to the relationship we have with the brands that we trust.
  • – The top ten companies all provide us with something we value highly. They appeal to us at an emotional level and as such have generally been seen by their customers as a force for good. The AA and RAC rescue us when we are stranded, Google has pioneered access to knowledge via the internet, Boots has made available generic medicines that we can all trust in, (and at a fraction of the price charged by the global pharmaceutical companies), Dulux is synonymous with high quality paint that protects our home and Fairy and Johnson’s Baby keeps our families clean and free from infection.
  • – Banks, insurance companies, utilities, pharmaceutical companies are among the sectors that were not represented in the UK’s most trusted brands. It’s not that those industries do not occupy an important place in the lives of UK people – they do. But those industries have not ‘connected’ with consumers and the things that matter in their lives in a believable way.

The challenge it seems in building a strong brand is to stay relevant and to behave in a way that ensures customers see you as standing for something they care about.

I’d be interested in hearing what strikes you about the UK’s most trusted brands. Please leave your comments below.