Thursday, 17 May 2007


I want to develop some thing about Trust. For several potential outlets. One is a banking conference next month. The other is rewriting the closing stages of the book. I have some initial thoughts and ideas, but I'd love to hear what others think.


Anonymous said...

Hi John,
I may be able to help you with the topic of trust. After researching the topic quite widely I have developed a model on how trust forms (with a psych professor). I base most of our brand strategy work on this and it works quite well. What specifically do you need for the banking conference?

Anonymous said...

Hi John,Just trying to get your e-mail address, do you trust me with it? Cheers, Mark Rapley

John Grant said...

Hi Mark, I trust you, I have emailed you :J

Stefan, brilliant so have I, although very sketchy and sans psychology professor I must admit. I am making a presentation at the end of a 3 day conference which draws together developments in marketing CSR and digital around the issue of breaking through the trust barrier going forward (there are about 2.5 banking brands in the UK people dont actually hate - hence product holding oer customer, churn etc are all bad - although HSBC is in a very interesting cusp moment, possibly becoming 'the M&S' on green & similar grounds).

We had a premeet today and the following emerged:
1. I will finalise my charts in response to what emerges during the conference
2. I am going to develop some 'what if' type provocations (case futures; ie concrete creative ideas & innocations that banks could execute)

I have a list of about 10 trust builder strategies broadly, from memory:
- setting the CSR/green standards
- transparency and guarantees
- partnerships
- enthusiasm schemes
- community
- dialogue
- everydayness/contacts
- educating customers
- innovation ('Prius' style flagships)
- redemption (ie like walmart, murdoch...)

Those sound dry but they are illustrated by interesting 'hit' cases from other markets.

Input for this would be great be much more intersting is the book irtsel. i am exploring issues like the ethics of consumerism & whether 'first hand' is replacing brand (eg advocacy, affiliate/blog sales, buying direct from a maker/farmer, ebay...)

Consumerisation is the re-investment of personal qualities into mass produced industrial goods and industrialised services. Maybe we are already a long way onto a new model.

Ultimately trust is a quality of human relating (there are other trusts which relate to institutions eg Giddens wrote about 'ontological trust'). The advent of a myspace/amazon review/ebay feedback world may, when we step back from it prove to have been a paradigm shift in the relationship between people, markets and stuff.

Still a bit loose, but coming together - that's just a skim, and something of a selection


john dodds said...

Gosh - you seem to have got some heavy weight insights there. My one thought (aside from agreeing that connectivity has totally undermined the ability for anyone to be dishonest) was related to something you said in the presentation the other night. Specifically, that due to emotional involvement on the part of green enthusiasts/zealots, trust within that sphere is much more fragile than in other areas (witness the Innocent/McDonalds furore and the passion in their blog's comments).

Upshot - you have to do exactly wht you say and arguably over deliver. Relatively speaking, there is less cynicism in the green sector re what can be achieved and more cynicism about how companies will attempt to dupe us.

fran said...

hi John

Like your trust builder strategies.

By way of background I imagine you'll draw on Francis Fukuyama and if you are, Accountability have done some intersting work on corporate responsibility and innovation - looking at the correlation between the two in Europe, at the national level. The correlation is close, Sweden came out very well, surprise, surprise. Poland not at all hot. Could be useful for background context?

In CR terms the dialogue, transparency and partnership elements are really important, often expressed by engaging in stakeholder dialogue. Also often then undermined when the outcoomes of the dialogue process then summarily ignored, which pisses the NGOs off no end.

When it comes to guarantees, not sure which ones you're thinking of, but for instance (at corporate level) verification statements at the end of sustainability reports rarely carry much weight as they are usually box ticking exercises done by large accountancy firms. Also eco-labels often contentious unless very simple or one dimensional or monitoired by respected org eg fair trade foundation or soil assoc. I realise that you're taking down to the personal level of Amazon reviews etc but if that becomes mainstream there's plenty of room for misuse and infiltration - so a verification conundrum there.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about the strategies. To me they seem to be fulfillment strategies. But trust is not just based around these. For example innovation - it is probably more important to define how to innovate as an organisation than what the outcome is (is my company attitude to do "breakthrough developments"? Is it "small practical steps", is it "visionary"?)
While one can say that trust is ultimately about "human relating", you need to ask how and why do they relate to you in that manner.
We have worked for example with AXA to redevelop their brand strategy based on trust. It was successful enough to be adopted in the UK, Asia and other countries. am happy to share some of the thinking with you. For sustainability, our Sydney manager has worked with Westpac on their sustainability approach.
If you want to exchange some more, my email is

John Grant said...

Hi thx for comments Stef

I'm unsure whether you should share the model you have (why would you want me giving it to 100 bankers for free when you can sell it to axa etc). I'm just there to simulate them to think creatively about whats possible.

The fulfilment point? Not sure - there is obviously a whole stream of other stuff about what you do with the service & etc.

also when it says 'innovation' (or anything in that list) that's obviously a summary.

Gradual innovation is the norm in retailers (1000 small changes) but i suspect it is usually the flagship big initiatives that build a sense that this company has capability which makes you trust them. like HSBC's 8% saving rate a few years ago. It's a very different issue than liking, it's more like trusting them to be competitive and good at stuff.. Tesco ae a gradualist and get their trust through other mechanisms, M&S are trusted to be a leader and draw more attention/make more splashes.

Anonymous said...

we work quite openly with our model as it often has to be shared with clients and agencies. Seeing and understanding how to use the outcomes doe snot mean understanding the underlying psychology well enough to develop it. But even if....
If HSBC is trusted because of 8% - and that constitutes trust in them being competitive, then the key principle is that it is about "trust to .....". Competitiveness is then only one option of many I could employ.
In the trust model we defined 3 tensions or 6 aspects that are important to develop trust. Things like competitiveness would be the definition of one of these aspects.
By way of background, we develope dthe model with prof salber who developed the most modern full psychology theory in the 70s. The stuff is based on this psychology. Salber is an ex market researcher who then went back to uni. The theory was developed around people's every day lives and examines the psychological tensions at work.
I started the project after Michael Bolk , the ex BBDO Europe Chairman, held a presentation on trust being the most decisive factor in business success. At the end of his speecha client got up and asked "If trust is so important, then how exactly do I build it? How do I steer it and how do I ask my CFO for money for it?". No one knew the answer to that and when we looked around it turned out that neither psychology, sociology, marketing, anthropology or anything else seemed to have a good body of work that was helpful. It is a bit like the topic of emotions - where Damasio said that everyone felt it is too difficult to explain emotions. So he at least gave it a good go with "The feeling of what happens". We then researched in 6 countries to understand trust on an interpersonal, organsiational and brand level. In addition I supervised a master thesis that was written on the topic of trust while I was Head of Strat at Clemenger/BBDO. Anyway. I do not feel that showing anyone the principle of the model is a problem as long as credit is given.

John Grant said...

nb I dropped the trust thing for the book (I hit a different angle for concluding thoughts)