How to tell customers you’re trustworthy without telling customers you’re trustworthy.

The business of trust.

10 May 2016
How to tell customers you’re trustworthy without telling customers you’re trustworthy.

Just like walking up to someone and saying “I’m awesome” sounds a little overconfident, directly communicating that your business or organization is trustworthy can come off as the opposite. But there are things you can do to get across the message of trustworthiness. Silently.


Trust is about being established.

Even if you haven’t been around forever, your company or organization is likely full of people who are experts in their fields. Show that your company is established by:

  • Calling attention to milestones and anniversaries in marketing materials.
  • Featuring a robust About section on your website and each of your social media sites.
  • Updating your office space to display a larger-than-life company or organization timeline.
  • Giving your customers 1-on-1 or virtual access to experts who’ve been at the company a long time—or consider making one of these lifers the face of a campaign like Columbia Sportswear has done with Chairwoman Gert Boyle.


Trust is about being credible.

One of the best ways to emphasize credibility is to let your current customers and clients do it for you through reviews. No one knows this better than Airbnb, which, when you think of what’s required to stay at a stranger’s home—or allow a stranger to stay at yours—is a business built entirely on trust.

Co-founder Joe Gebbia says the reviews feature was one of the most critical ways of encouraging and nurturing trust among site users for each other and the company itself. In a recent TED Talk, Gebbia said, “We did a joint study with Stanford, where we looked at people’s willingness to trust someone based on how similar they are in age, location and geography. The research showed, not surprisingly, we prefer people who are like us. The more different somebody is, the less we trust them. Now, that’s a natural social bias. But what’s interesting is what happens when you add reputation into the mix, in this case, with reviews. Now, if you’ve got less than three reviews, nothing changes. But if you’ve got more than 10, everything changes. High reputation beats high similarity. The right design can actually help us overcome one of our most deeply rooted biases.”

Many companies fear enabling reviews on sites and social media. But by allowing your customers to have a voice—even if it’s to share a complaint—that says that you are open to their feedback. That says you’re a company that cares. That says you’re likely a company who will take negative comments to heart, and consider doing something about them.


Trust is about being approachable.

Approachable is many things, but a simple way to create a comfort-level and ease with your organization is to design with friendly colors and fonts.

What do Dell, LinkedIn, Facebook, General Electric, Ford, JP Morgan and numerous other companies know about blue? That it’s a color that often creates a sense of security and implies trust without stating it. Other colors like yellow and red may unknowingly create unease—although more than the color itself, its usage, sparing or splashy, speaks volumes. Want to learn more about the psychology of color? Check out this graphic from Hubspot.

Similarly, certain fonts evoke certain feelings, as well. If you want persuasiveness, go for Baskerville, says writer Errol Morris. His study on whether fonts made a difference in trustworthiness found that people were more likely to agree with statements written in more classic fonts than more modern ones.

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Tags: financial services marketing, healthcare marketing, nonprofit marketing, Branding, tech marketing