How businesses can earn lasting trust thanks to a pandemic

While governments and health organizations encourage and expect businesses to act right in a time like this, perhaps there is a selfish reason—the bottom line friendly one—to take these regulations seriously.

It is true that people make decisions based more on emotions than on logic, but one of the reasons that makes sense is that we intuitively recognize that we are never going to have all the facts we need for ‘proper analysis’. So, we look for pointers.

Someone didn’t dress well for the interview, based on our definition of “well”, and we conclude they will not do the job right either, even though dressing up has nothing to do with their roles. Someone smiles often, and we conclude they are happy and would be nice to be with it, even when we have no tiny little bit of what life they have lived. We are constantly looking for pointers, and the COVID-19 pandemic presents a golden one for businesses.

As individuals and public spaces lackadaisically relax their adherence to the safety protocols of physical distancing and wearing of protective masks, as the world seems to “get used” to the new reality, the ones who don’t, set themselves apart and earn a reputation for excellence.

One of the major reasons we trust big brands—even though we may not realize—is what their investment in marketing suggests to us. We know that if these guys spend this much to advertise their brand, they must have put a lot into the product itself, and they surely have a lot to lose. I learned this from Rory Sutherland’s Alchemy and it makes a lot of sense.

Opeyemi Olugbemiro (Partner and colleague at FourthCanvas) was the first to bring my attention to what he called “transferable excellence”. I don’t know if he coined it or got it from his daily ritual of reading at least 10 articles. It’s how people conclude that if you did A well, you would probably repeat the same on B.

You probably get the point by now.

When you have to turn left to wash your hand, spread it under a touchless hand dryer, reach out for your mask from your bag (which you forget a lot these days, although you shouldn’t), wait for a small device pointed to your body to check your temperature, and as you walk in, every member of the staff has their masks properly worn, and then you see the seats properly spaced, and people checking on people to minimize breaches… it doesn’t matter if you are very conscientious yourself and believe that “all of these protocols” is necessary, or NOT… it doesn’t matter if you would be pulling your masks out once you step back out of the premises, such a business place suggests to your subconscious that there is a lot more they take very seriously—including the inner workings of your product/service that you don’t have the facts to analyze—and you will visit again.

Somewhere in Nigeria

So, if you run a physical business place, and a safer world is not enough reason for you to be safety compliant in the way the pandemic demands, you could as well do it to earn some brand reputation. Either way, the world will be a safer place.

PS. One more thing. Add images of these “stringent processes” to your social media feed, and pass a message about safety and detail as values that matter to your organization. And in all of this, believe these (important) things yourself too.

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Victor A. Fatanmi

‘Finding my writing’, under the blanket of the known image of a Designer and Agency Founder.