Know, Like, and Trust in the Digital Age

December 17, 2014

trust in the digital age

We do business with brands we know, like, and trust. This tried and true expression has guided marketers for decades, helping us align our organizational beliefs with our actions. However, like most popular axioms it’s easy to nod along at these words without fully internalizing their meaning. Plus digital tools such as social media and content marketing have changed every aspect of how we build brands online and off.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of these three words. If anything these ideas offer marketers advice that’s more relevant now than ever before. Let’s take a look at these three often-quoted-yet-often-misunderstood words to see how they can still serve as a strong compass for your brand’s marketing.

Let’s look at know, like, and trust in the digital age.


In the broadcast media landscape, this first stop in our marketing mantra was frequently the most challenging. After all, this traditional dynamic was defined by gaining attention often through interruption-based advertising. The lucky ones achieved the coveted goal of top-of-mind awareness.

Fast forward to today and the playing field has been leveled. The price of awareness is considerably lower. You don’t have to have a billion dollar ad budget to get to know your brand. That said, you have to do more than just plant a flag on a social network like Facebook or Instagram.

Awareness may require less of a media budget (though this is certainly going up with paid opportunities on most major social networks gaining traction), the expenditure most organizations neglect is the strategy behind your digital efforts that ensures that you are a brand worth getting to know.


Thanks to our friends at Facebook we now have a second definition of ‘like’ to contend with. Worse still is the fact that focusing on the like button alone sets our sights too low, as we aim for that most basic level of social media engagement.

It’s worth a quick trip to the dictionary to remind us that to be likable is to be pleasant, friendly, and easy to like. If strategy is where we misstep on the ‘know’ aspect, then not having a clearly defined brand is where we err most when it comes to ‘like.’ Who are you? What do you stand for? Sometimes branding gets a bad rap for being a dated concept. This stereotype is short-sighted and guarantees that you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone to like you by either definition.


Trust doesn’t come easy. It never has and it never will. Trust is built over time through a series of conversations, exchanges, promises, and actions. While social media hasn’t made any of this easier, it has accelerated the process.

We can have conversations with our community every day via social media. But simply engaging doesn’t deliver trust. In addition to having a fully articulated strategy and a clearly defined brand, you need to communicate all of this with authenticity and transparency. This sounds like a no-brainer, however, it’s amazing how often we forget the social side of social media.

Look for ways to be genuine and human on behalf of your brand every day and you’ll be on the fast track to building long-term trust.

How about you? What do you do to ensure that your brand is one that the public knows, likes, and trusts?

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.