Why design is so important to building brand trust

Why design is so important to building brand trust

Design is incredibly important in building trust. It makes the complex simple. Design makes technology and its infrastructure understandable to humans. To create better products, companies need to really focus on what transparency means in design, which means explaining what a digital product is doing when and why we interact with it – offering opt in versus opt out, for example. Trust needs to be clear, understandable, and consistent.

Earning trust isn’t a one-time event. It comes from a cumulation of interactions, not just a first impression.

Why do consumers trust brands?

For brands, digital user experiences should be built upon three pillars: convenience, quality of interaction, and trust. Without one of these, the whole experience – and in-turn a brand’s reputation – can fall apart.

So, a good digital experience provides immediacy and convenience across devices, is enjoyable and tells a story, and builds trust through frictionless, authentic experiences. User experience design is central to this.

The challenge for brands is balancing these and delivering across all three pillars.

Sure, we can leverage data and understand user behaviour, moments when they interact with a brand or a product, and design optimal experiences to promote certain behaviours, driven by data and purchase intent. We can ensure personal data and payment details are managed and stored securely. We can offer clear delivery and returns options. And we can build messaging around values, culture, and mission to engage with a more empathetic and socially aware generation of consumers in Gen Z and Millennials.

Building trust at every touchpoint

However, delivering these consistently across multiple touchpoints is a challenge. We see investment in great ecommerce sites and experiences, but often organisations don’t see the bigger picture, and don’t have the structure, systems, or people in place to maximise their potential. This can be detrimental to a brand’s reputation.

This is why digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) – Airbnb, MADE, Glossier, Casper – have been so successful.

Airbnb has trust engrained at the very core of its business, in terms of traveller and host reviews, as well as secure payments and a great site and app.

MADE customers trust they’re investing in premium furniture, with premium customer service, supported by a slick user-friendly website with transparent delivery and returns messaging and outstanding quality product photography.

Glossier’s trust is built upon an incredible brand community, eCommerce site and app.

And Casper’s trust is built upon a simple product and buying experience, and its focus on core values: hassle-free delivery and product quality, ensured by a 100-night trial.

But it’s easier to curate these connected and coherent brand experiences from scratch. Entire brands can be built around focal points such as convenience, experience, even brand values. But it’s not as straightforward for legacy companies to shift and adopt this kind of approach, and coherently deliver these values throughout the business.

Omnichannel is becoming a bit of a buzzword, but a multi-channel approach for brands is as vital as ever. The linear customer journey has been blown to bits, there are so many touchpoints now and the challenge for brands is to blend cohesion and convenience for their customers across all channels: websites, social media, email, celebrity endorsements and influencers, in-store retail staff, customer service teams. If one of these is off-message or shows a lack of authenticity, this can be detrimental.

So here are the key takeaways

  1. Focus as much on appearance as usability
  2. Ensure consistency in everything you create and share

As users, we tend to perceive attractive products as more usable. We consider things that look better, will work better – even if they don’t. A 2012 study by Google suggests users will judge a website’s design in 50 milliseconds, before they even start using it. A positive experience is the first step to building trust with consumers.

Consistency in design, colours, fonts, language, and tone of voice. This will provide them with a smooth journey on your site. Beyond this, consider how to communicate your values through the UX to build trust.

Ultimately, this can be looked on as an opportunity for the modern brand. Putting consumer needs at the centre of a business can reap rewards. For sure, it’s the brands that focus on these user experience elements and portray these messages clearly that are seeing success.

Design needs to be a priority for companies’ leadership. McKinsey explained that the best-performing companies put design first. What’s more, design is a priority for their top-level executives and leaders.

McKinsey’s report found that organisations that were most successful in putting design first saw huge returns. In fact, companies that were ranked in the top quartile for design performance saw 10% annual revenue growth — compared to 3-6 percent average growth within their industries.

Top-ranking organisations for design also increased their total annual returns to shareholders by 21 percent, compared to a 12-16 percent industry benchmark.

Reimagine how brands define and measure growth. It should be less about the number of people that are taking specific actions, and more on the context that surrounds their decision-making. Bringing brand together with experience as one cohesive system is the route to sustained relevance in customers’ lives.