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Brave brands are trusted brands

As the age-old adage goes, “Fortune favors the brave.”

But, does this apply to the world of business?

Brands who have taken bold and ambitious steps, from Apple’s famously bone-chilling “1984” ad to IHOP replacing the P with a B, there is a lengthy run sheet of brands that have pulled big stunts and pushed the boundaries to to make people feel something.

For brave branding to succeed, consumers have to trust you.

Brand trust is one of the most elusive, similarly difficult to obtain and measure factors that companies have set their sights on since the dawn of commerce. But what if we told you there’s actually a way to find out how trusted you are as a brand?

A.I.-powered social listening and intelligence tools can sift through the billions of online data points to find the pivotal consumer insights that can’t be found anywhere else. In Interbrand’s Best Global Brands Report, our software, Infegy Atlas, played an instrumental role in developing the list of the worlds top brands by measuring audience dialogue, brand sentiment and emotion.

Firstly, looking at metrics like emotion and sentiment help paint the picture of how audiences view specific brands and topics. Consumer sentiment online can demonstrate the target audience’s passion for your brand and its initiatives. Subsequently,, you look at how much online dialogue also shows trust and loyalty towards the brand.

A key finding from our analysis was that the bravest brands are also the most trusted brands. When a brand makes bold choices for its business, consumer trust is one of the most important factors in predicting the effectiveness of that business decision.In this year’s Best Global Brands report, you’ll see that some of the most trusted brands have been able to succeed in the eyes of their customers. Why is brand trust is so vital? What does it take to measure trust in your brand? And how do you then comprehend that consumer trust and use it for big brand wins?

Why it Takes Consumer Trust for Bravery to Pay Off

Humans by nature like to be in control. Back in the early days of human existence when food was scarce and dangers that threatened our survival lurked in every corner, those who took the most control over their circumstances were the ones who thrived.

When control is relinquished, humans have an innate tendency to lean on what they trust most. By sacrificing control to others who people can rely upon, people feel they still hold maintain a sense of control. When dealing with entities that aren’t trusted, people lose the feeling of control completely. Therefore, we  relate the emotion of trust with control.

When brands make bold moves with their business decisions and communicate them across their messaging, they are essentially asking consumers to relinquish more control over to them because they are forcing them to encounter something they haven’t before. Unfamiliarity breeds the possibility of distrust.

Consumer Trust - Best Global Brands 2018


If an entity makes some sort of action, the reaction will depend on two important variables:

  • How bold the action is
  • To what extent the brand is trusted

The more trust consumers have in a company, the more the company can push the envelope. The less trust they have garnered among their consumer base, the less they can make bold actions.


Now, let’s visualize how trusted a brand is in the eyes of consumers.

Analyzing Social and Online Audience Data Helps Measure Trust

So, is your brand trusted? Luckily we have the technology that can find out. As stated above, consumer trust can be quantified. When we analyze a myriad of online consumer voices, we see the various emotions expressed when people talk about brands online. Emotions drive how we act. This is why emotional messaging is such an effective way for brands to market and advertise.

Social listening helps us measure the emotions people express when they talk online. By understanding how people voice their thoughts, feelings and emotions, we can conduct accurate consumer analysis, make predictions about the market, measure the performance of campaigns, and understand how people feel about the brand.

Emotion Distribution by Social Channel - Best Global Brands 2018

When we analyze the millions of online posts from people all over the web — from social media sites, to blogs, to review sites —  we can start to see the types of emotions that people elicit online. And then we can parse out those posts that express certain emotions, such as trust in the brand. Trust is an indicator of key consumer behaviors like purchasing and brand loyalty.

In fact, according to our social listening research, there is a direct correlation between audiences expressing trust and purchase intent.

Trust vs. Purchase Intent - Best Global Brands 2018

Taking that into consideration, how do we know if a brand is truly prepared to be brave? Let’s explore how the world’s top brands stack up in terms of how consumers view them and whether or not these brands are also well-trusted.

A Look at Consumer Trust in the Best Global Brands 2018 Ranking

When looking at Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2018 report, we can quickly see the extent to which the most successful brands are trusted. After analyzing top consumer brands and comparing their online sentiment and trust scores, we see how positively and negatively they are viewed by their online audiences. Then, we find the percentage of all post that express trust in that brand.

When looking at the chart of the top 10 brands in our report, you can get a grasp if the brand favorability from audiences, along with how much they trust that brand.


Sentiment and Trust for Top Brands - Best Global Brands 2018

The bar chart above conveys the world’s most trusted brands. We argue that these brands still have room to take some bold steps in how they market their products and he types of messaging they can leverage.

The Fastest Growing Brands are Also Improving Consumer Trust

Interbrand also features the top growing brands year-over-year in their report. Therefore, we measured the top growing brands from last year and this year  to develop a ranking of the companies who are experiencing the most growth. Here’s that list visualized:


Sentiment and Trust for Top Growing Brands - Best Global Brands 2018

As it turns out, when crunching the numbers in Infegy Atlas, we found that there is a strong correlation between  brand growth and consumer trust.

Top Growing Brands are driving Trust - Best Global Brands 2018

It’s clear that, as these brands continue to improve in their favorability rankings and financial growth, consumers will naturally have more trust in them.

Understanding Consumers is the Best Way to Inform Branding Decisions

But, what does it take to be a brave brand? You cannot effectively market your brand, product or service without understanding your consumers inside-and-out. Research and document everything you can about your target audience by using the right tools and resources. If you do your homework ahead of time, you’ll be able to accurately gauge whether or not you’re prepared to be the next brave brand.

Take Nike’s incredibly bold move to feature Colin Kaepernick in their new campaign in fall 2018. It’s clear that Nike knew their audience when they kicked off this campaign. Regardless of how you feel from an ideological standpoint, Nike undoubtedly made a bold move that resulted in shifting the narrative around their brand. It got people talking. And profit margins increased by 30%. 

So, was this the right move by big Swoosh? Let’s start with asking whether or not they had a solid business plan going in:

Looking at the trust scores for the athletic shoe industry, it’s clear that Nike is one of the most trusted brands in their category.

So, did the campaign yield  a positive result in the end? If we just analyzed audience sentiment toward the brand during and after the campaign, you’d see a good 50-50 on the positive and negative side, which is the textbook definition of a polarizing campaign.

However, what if we looked at a different measurement?

Using Infegy Atlas, we built a custom audience segment of Nike target audiences. We analyzed the sentiment toward the brand for Nike’s advocate fans and people who talked about Nike passionately before the campaign, then re-analyzed that same audience after it. That tells a different story:

This means that those who were loyal to Nike and discussed the brand frequently responded more positively.

This validates the notion that the most trusted brands can be the bravest. And that the bravest brands are the most trusted brands. Now, looking at the brand trust score from January 2018 to the campaign’s rollout in September, you’ll also see that consumer trust in Nike overall went up after the launch of the campaign.

Additionally, in our analysis, we found that trust was the top emotion expressed by all audiences the week of and immediately after the ad campaign rolled out. 

In Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2018 report, you’ll find Nike at number 17 on the table. One has to wonder if brand trust will continue to propel them up the ranking moving forward.


Nearly 2.8 billion people will be frequent social media users in 2019. And beyond social media platforms, consumers will be having conversations elsewhere on the web. When people talk about your brand, business, or relevant issues to them,  you need to listen. This is a golden opportunity to learn about your consumer base, and start to establish a more trusting relationship. Then you will know how to proceed with making ambitious brand plays. The good news for brands who aspire to be brave? You can analyze trust, as you can now put a data point against it. By measuring and analyzing consumer trust in your brand, and working to improve how audiences view you, you’ll be able to establish a foundation for which to see those high ambitions through.

For now, focus on earning your audience’s trust. Then, you’ll be a step closer to becoming a brave brand.

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