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A Brand New Idea

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Brand Trust Report, India Study is a piece of theoretical value created by the Trust Research Advisory (TRA). It is the brainchild of N. Chandramouli. The 2016 volume of this study lends insight into some startling, relevant facts and figures. Afternoon D&C speaks to N. Chandramouli about the book, the city and much more.

At a personal level, what is the equation that you share with Mumbai?
Mumbai is my professional mentor. The city that gave me my professional grounding, direction and standing. To me it is a universally multiplied manifold, for it has educated and groomed me as well.

How has your journey in the communications industry been so far?
Just after finishing my Engineering in 1990, I felt comfortably vacant and lost. Talking to more than a few achievers, seers and octogenarians, it emerged that after all the insights and experience they had, none truly knew whether the life-decisions they took were correct. They were as vacant and lost as I was. My quandary was simple yet profound – What should I do now? Being born between two siblings with makings of specialists, my older sister a microbiologist and the younger, a budding theatre artist, made my dilemma only tougher. Much as I tried, I could not focus on any one direction though I knew with clarity what I did not want to do. Seeing my classmates getting sucked into an ever tightening career-trap, scrambling for a job was first on my Not-To-Do-List. After I put down enough on this list, I decided to go into business; though I knew very little about businesses or how they were run. It was here that the seeds of my entrepreneurial journey were unassumingly sown. When you don’t know what business you’re going to start, finding the right idea can be quite a task. I started off with trading in chemicals, and subsequently ran successful businesses in stock-broking, banking and exports, till I came upon communication – a business that would obsessively consume me. Since 1998, I am a professional in Public Relations & Communication, still as eager and inquisitive as I was when starting out. The past decade of my career may be termed successful, having promoted 6 different communication companies.

According to you, which has been the most interesting brand study in the past year?
The Brand Trust Report, India Study 2016 has been an interesting study mainly because of the kind of surprising insights it has spawned this year.  We have seen a trend where Indian brands have started to gain confidence in how they compete in the market place. The Indian brands trust factor is on the rise as they break international brand barriers. This can be seen with brands like Patanjali and Cavinkare who are performing high on the trust in the latest report.

What inspired you to come out with the concept of launching The Brand Trust Reports?
We recognized the importance of theory and its deficiency in communication causes significant transactional gap between teaching and doing. This leads to a massive waste of communication effort and business opportunity. While most measure a brand in terms of market share, brand value and growth, the more important invisible and intangible components of brand behaviour are often lost to measurement.  We tried to look at these elements holistically and create a singular metric that could measure the intangibles of a brand. The Brand Trust Report is the cumulative result of these research endeavours.

How does The Brand Trust Report benefit brands?
Trust, in its most basic form, is the quality of anything being considered believable. Trust is as much dependent on consumer beliefs, values and perceptions, as it is on the brands environment, culture and context. Over time, the evident notations of Trust in business have changed and subtle ones now exert stronger influences. To feature in the report is a matter of great pride for any brand and to display this achievement TRA licenses the Trust symbol so that brands can carry the mark of their achievement with great pride. Also the report helps the brand understand and analyse its trust quotient and enhance it with their stakeholders including customers, employees, and investors among others.

What is the first step that brands should take while building trust?
Trust is based on three foundations, all of which are dependent on the action of the trustee. The steps that brands should take while building trust are – firstly building its capacity to trust to make the environment conducive and ‘inviting’ for the trustor to assume a degree of vulnerability in the trust-relationship. Secondly, brands should build on the perception of positive intent followed by demonstrating relevant competence to fulfil the act of trust assigned.

How relevant is consumer trust for brand success?
Trust is the crux of all social engagement – courtship, sharing, learning, innovation, love, cooperation, coordination, resolution of conflict and more. It is also essential for making decisions, big or small –whether choosing an escape route when faced with a life-threat, or choosing a school for one’s child. Trust is the basis of all our exchanges, with people, things and even ideas. In the most basic terms, Trust can be understood as a ‘framework of expectancy’ a person uses in all his social, emotional and commercial dealings. It gets built over time with repetition of ‘expected outcomes’, building confidence in the relationship. The outcome of this expectancy framework is expressed in action, words and also by covert signals like body language, tone and behaviour.

How can brands communicate that they are the most trusted in the industry?
Brands make blatant claims of being the “Most Trusted Brand” without any proof of trust being established. This is careless communication at its best. At its worst, such claims erode the very trust they are attempting to create. A brand should thus focus on communicating the right message with an authentic backup to it.

Licensing is an integral business development tool that provides a brand with a competitive advantage. It helps the brand leverage its self in its marketing communication with a stamp of surety and confidence. Several leading brands have used the report and its extensions to enhance their brand's scope and relevance.

How can start-ups benefit from The Brand Trust Report?
The report is a platform of Trust and start-ups can showcase their trust in it. They should contribute in the report as it would help them get the momentum they need. This will also benefit them to gain a wider reach. Many start-ups like A&H Group – School of Excellence, Arogya Finance and Biomatiques Identification Solutions to name a few have previously participated in our report.

In today’s world where should a brand invest its money?
Naturally on building trust. The equation is no longer on the tangible aspects of a brand but on the intangible aspects of trust which is a social-glue that brings stability to any relationship and balances its unstated terms of engagement. For the glue to work the ‘terms of engagement’ are evaluated through scope, depth, expectations and outcomes.
Do you wish to introduce any new reports in the future?
We annually launch two reports every year – The Brand Trust Report and India’s Most Attractive Brands. We have also recently introduced The Buying Propensity Report which is generated based on the data collected from 2,500 influencers of Brand Trust and 2,500 influencers of Brand Attractiveness who are interviewed each year on 61 Trust Attributes and 36 Traits of Attractiveness respectively. The data for the report is thus distilled from two of TRA’s key annual reports – The Brand Trust Report and India’s Most Attractive Brands.

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