Building Brand Trust in a Recession

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In times of recession, it’s important to know how to keep your business afloat and your customers happy. Consumers will set stricter boundaries for themselves when it comes to their purchasing habits. This decision stems from a feeling of fear and uncertainty.

As a business, it’s your job to understand and respect these boundaries while also navigating through them, so you can continue growing your business while ensuring your customers are happy.

And the best way to do that? Good branding.

No matter the state of the world, your branding strategies will determine where you fit in. Branding is how you build trust with your consumers and achieve loyalty, which is especially crucial during recessions.

While you should strive to have a solid relationship with your consumers all the time, it’s especially important to think of ways to continue building brand trust in a downturn.

In this article, we’ll walk through five takeaways we found in our 2022 US Banking Industry Loyalty Report, so you can better understand how to maintain brand trust:

  1. Share the “Why” Behind Your Business’ Purpose
  2. Don’t Expect Your Customers to Be Loyal
  3. Let Your Consumers Create Your Profiles
  4. Focus on Honesty and Transparency
  5. Always Be Researching, Learning, and Improving


1. Share the “Why” Behind Your Business’ Purpose

As a business owner, one of the most important questions you should ask yourself is, “How do I want to be perceived?” Then, make sure that answer is reflected not only in your mission statement, but in every aspect of your business. Consumers will come to you for your product or service, but they will stay if they feel like you are trustworthy. This will make it more likely that they stay loyal to you, even in times of hardship.


2. Don’t Expect Your Customers to Be Loyal

Regardless of how great your business is, you can’t assume your target audience already knows you. You also can’t expect them to get to know you without laying the groundwork. Do not expect loyalty from your customers — earn it.

In our 2022 US Banking Industry Loyalty Report, we completed a syndicated study of over 3,000 clients from 20 top financial institutions. Results showed consumers are skeptical of business practices, which makes reaching them all the more difficult.

Simply existing isn’t enough anymore.

For example, one of the key findings from this study saw 21 percent higher loyalty levels for new digital competitors versus older national banks. Why? Because these companies use technology to their advantage to reach their customer base and be more transparent with them.


3. Let Your Consumers Create Their Profiles

When it comes to creating a strong strategy, having customer profiles, or personas, is a great way to facilitate the process of ideating and executing new plans. While it can be tempting to create profiles from your own understanding of your business, it can lead you down a road on which you put people into boxes where they don’t belong.

Instead, you should listen to their wants and needs, letting their feelings and beliefs drive your strategy every step of the way. Regardless of how great your product or service is or how well you advertise it, it won’t be the main reason people buy from you. The majority of customer decisions are led by how they feel about you.

According to a 2015 study by Harvest Business Review, customers that are highly engaged and fully connected with a brand are 52 percent more valuable than those who are not.

Today, consumers are even more concerned with dishonesty and fraud within companies and are constantly bombarded by advertisements and offers daily, so this percentage has presumably risen considerably as we make our way into the latter half of 2022.


4. Focus on Honesty and Transparency

Every successful strategy has metrics to back it up, but that doesn’t make the numbers the only important aspect of a good plan. When you don’t have actual statistics to drive your ideas forward, pay attention to how you want your customers to feel about your brand. Stay open and honest while delivering the results you promised.

The best thing you can do is say what you do and do what you say. That way, your customers know they can rely on you, even through a recession. Plus, this kind of value extends beyond just one customer.

A 2020 trend report by Forrester indicated 76 percent of customers say they will stay with a business if they feel appreciated, 80 percent will spend more time and money, and 87 percent will recommend the business to others.


5. Always Be Researching, Learning, and Improving

Even a successful business should never stop growing, and the key to doing that is to constantly measure and extrapolate data from your interactions with your consumers. That way, your loyal customers offer a lifetime value rather than just “in the moment” value.

There are plenty of ways you can measure your customer loyalty levels, including programmatic, purchase, engagement, and corporate measurements. These methods will give you a well-rounded view of your interactions with customers through loyalty programs, purchases, advertising, and more.


The Bottom Line

Recessions are hard for businesses and consumers alike, so learning how to navigate them is crucial. No two downturns in the economy are 100 percent the same, but you can still make some general assumptions that will help you better prepare for the next time.

The best thing you can do as a business is to listen to your customers’ evolving needs, be predictable and transparent, and focus on growing with your customers instead of just on your own.

If you want to learn more about building your brand, check out our 2022 US Banking Industry Loyalty Report in its entirety or get in touch with our team to discuss your research needs today.