Today, the world’s most valuable brand is Apple. Forbes estimates Apple’s brand is worth $205B. Why is Apple’s brand worth so much? It’s the trust the brand inspires in consumers.
Apple customers know Apple the company. They understand the product philososphy, the history, the quality of typical Apple products, and the reputation for quality. A strong brand is the lagging indicator of having built trust. We won’t buy from people or companies we don’t trust.
The same is true in software.
Companies selling to engineers and technical buyers demonstrate technical prowess first, before pitching their product. Engineers from CockroachDB writes about chaos engineering. Mattermost shares best practices for running multi-cluster environments with Prometheus and Grafana. Gremlin uncovers the details of downtime at Heroku.
Open source companies build trust by sharing the entirety of their codebase to the public. If the buyer has a question about the software, they can audit it themselves and communicate with the authors. This transparency builds trust.
Enterprise buyers use third parties to buy software. They consult Gartner, Forrester, and others to establish trust in vendors. These research agencies diligence software products directly and through surveys. This is the reason analyst relations are so important. Presence on the magic quadrant confers trustworthiness.
Of course, trust doesn’t stop with marketing. Slimy sales practices provokes distrust. Shoddy product quality erodes trust. Slow or opaque customer support also erodes trust. Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to engender or erode trust.
Brands are so valuable because they are the encapsulation of years long efforts to engender trust. That’s why Apple’s brand is worth about one-quarter of their market cap. Trust accelerates sales cycles, creates long term defensibility, and increases the value of a business overall. It’s the core purpose of marketing.