My creative marketing agency is currently bidding for a significant project involving brand re-positioning, a new brand identity, development of a professional-community website concept and website design, plus all the attendant online content creation – not to mention an overall B2B marketing plan (which will include trade show tactics such as my all time business-to-business favorite, trade show TV). Although we are based in the Chicago area, the RFP came from a fairly large, sophisticated technology company based in India.
An Emerging Issue in Brand Trust
I mention this not merely as a chance to include that string of keywords in the opening paragraph, nor to make you think we’ve moved away from our core business as a project-based branding and marketing agency for à la carte creative services in advertising, sales collateral, direct marketing and the like (ah, sorry… can’t kick the keyword habit). It also represents an emerging issue in terms of brand trust, namely: Does brand trust travel across borders and, if so, how?
Global brands have been trying to figure this out for years, slowly, often painfully learning to brand globally but speak locally. Now, in a world where any and every company can have international reach via the Internet, we all have to figure out how to not only create trust in our brands, but also make that sense of trust travel across borders and cultures (especially when branding services, which may not physically manifest themselves anywhere, domestic or international).
New Resources, Old Recommendations
Much like consumers, business-to-business prospects are using the Internet to look for resources and recommendations. Our prospective client from India found us listed as one of the top content creation companies on topseos.com. But how can they be confident of what they read? To be sure, the question of brand trust travels across borders – but how do we help international prospects answer that question?
“Old” offline techniques are still operative. Yes, the more distant our prospects, the more pervasive and persuasive our online presence needs to be, via our own websites, social media, online PR and press, advertising… the works. But in our particular example, and I am sure most others, it will come down to a very old-fashioned form of reassurance: the professional peer recommendation. In this case, we can offer our far-flung prospect Fortune 500 references in and out of his field. He may never call them – but just having their names, numbers and the reassurance of the big brand name behind them may still be the best-of-all permission to believe. It’s hardly new media rocket science – just another example of how business basics still matter.
As a slight aside, it is interesting to me that this may represent a B2B reversal of emerging online consumer behavior. That is, one recent study shows how consumers are increasingly vetting the much-vaunted and cultivated recommendations of friends with follow-up online search.
But back to our original subject, and one more question… What are you doing to make build trust in your brand across borders?