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Confucius said and I stand by this dictum: “A good government needs weapons, food and trust. If one cannot hold on to all three, he should give up weapons first, food next. Trust should be guarded till the end, because without trust we cannot stand.”

Trust is the most basic element of social contact – the great intangible at the heart of every long-term success. The past year has been inundated with negative news reports of some of our biggest brands in the banking, technology, and consumer goods sectors—from the PNB fraud case involving Gitanjali Gems and Nirav Modi, Facebook data theft, Rotomac loan default to controversies surrounding ICICI Bank and Videocon.

Eventually, it comes down to where the buck stops. Perhaps here is where trust begins – at the helm of every brand requisites a leader who translates a strong value system seamlessly into his professional ethos. In his book, “Trust or Consequences: Build Trust Today or Lose Your Market Tomorrow”, Al Golin, the founder of Golin, says, “CEOs need to become more involved as trust builders. They need to assume personal responsibility and accountability (No, you do not flee the country after committing a fraud); personally and visibly show concern and care for customers; stick to a code of strong business ethics no matter what; and handle crises more transparently and quickly.

Brands promise tall claims to their consumers and set unreal expectations. Today’s consumer can very quickly sense which brands are credible and authentic. The reality is that the trust between a consumer and a brand is just as important as an important personal relationship. Listen to your consumer and deliver on whatever promises you make.

This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of Exchange4Media’s Impact magazine.