What’s emerging as the most important marker of brand trust today?

reading time: 2 mins

What’s emerging as the most important marker of brand trust today?
Breakthrough data-analysis tech firm Signoi has the answer…

October 29, 2019by Clare Warren

People scrutinise brands all the time. Whatever the current trends; whatever your past performance; every interaction your organisation has feeds into its reputation. And that reputation determines whether your brand is trusted – or not.

At Signoi, we wanted to explore what matters most to people when it comes to this concept of trust. What does trust mean to us, today? And what do brands need to know about trust to enable  their performance?

A new form of data analysis

To answer these questions, we used Signoi’s ground-breaking new form of data analysis – quantitative semiotics – to create the Trust Cultural Weather Report. By combining the speed and power of cutting-edge AI with the deep insight of psychology, ethnography and semiotics, our platform is able to gather vast amounts of unstructured data and to decode it at pace and at scale. As well as performing standard forms of data analysis – text analytics; sentiment analysis; emotion analysis and more – this means that we are able track and analyse big, complex, highly-dynamic and very human concepts (like trust; money; family; home) that other approaches fail to pick up.

For this report we gathered a massive 297,000 publicly available data points about brand trust. This was unstructured data drawn from social media; social forums and reviews. Going forward, we’ll ingest the websites of the top 500 companies in the US, the UK and Australia, plus challenger brands, and incorporate a trawl of newsflow. 

Here’s what we found:

Right now – at the end of 2019 – we have clear expectations of what a trustworthy organisation looks like. The things that are regarded as being of prime importance include digital security; telling the truth and treating people well.  But there are also emerging themes around trust, which look set to affect what we expect in the future.

The importance of Agency

One of these emerging themes is the importance of agency – the ability of an individual to shape and influence what happens in their life. When we have agency, we feel as though we are able to make decisions about what happens to us. When we don’t have agency, we feel powerless.

That desire for self-determination was captured in a recent campaign run by Atom Bank, which used pithy cartoons to illustrate the financial frustration felt by Millennials. In one ad an older man says: ‘I hear you lot are into buying ‘experiences’.’ The Millennials reply: ‘Yeah, we’d quite like to experience what it’s like to own a house.’

Atom Bank are highlighting that, contrary to the lazy stereotype about a generation of scroungers, what Millennials really want is financial independence. Why? Because financial independence gives people a sense of agency: they have the wherewithal to make choices about their lives.

What does this desire for agency means for brands? It means that this growing cultural trend may favour organisations that:

  • Actively listen and respond openly to their customers. As an example, this might be in the form of answering publicly and honestly to feedback – and taking clear steps to redress complaints. This process gives people agency because it shows them that their voice is listened to and considered.
  • Provide honest, straightforward advice. Being able to make informed choices about products or services gives us agency. So, to thrive, companies will need to be transparent about their pricing; ethics and capabilities.
  • Understand their customers’ wider values. One way in which people can achieve agency is by choosing the products and services that fit their social values: whether that’s the company that operates sustainably or the company that employs locally.
  • Offer clarity and simplicity about terms and conditions. Reams of tiny T&Cs reduce agency because they appear impenetrable and coercive. The clearer companies can be about legal rights and obligations, the more agency they give to their customers.
  • Allow flexibility. People don’t have agency when they are tied into contracts that no longer support their needs. Companies that offer people a greater degree of flexibility will have an advantage over those that don’t.

Big, highly dynamic, socially negotiated concepts like trust affect and alter the zeitgeist. It’s by understanding them that we gain the insights and foresights that help us to adapt to future business needs.

To find out more:

  • Reserve your free copy of Signoi: The Cultural Weather Trust Report here
  • See more articles in the Trust series here:

At Signoi we carry out all traditional forms of data analysis and our innovative new approach – quantitative semiotics – is a groundbreaking way of analysing unstructured data at pace and at scale.

It’s different to anything else that’s out there. And it surfaces the insights that you can’t afford to miss!

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