A Crisis of Trust — & What You Can Do About It

March 14, 2024

While trust has been trending downwards for years, the Edelman 2024 Trust Barometer report paints a sobering picture. Trust in American institutions is at an all-time low, and the US sits near the bottom among developed countries in terms of overall trust in business, government, NGOs, and the media.

Earning the trust of US consumers is a challenge – but it also represents a significant opportunity for businesses.

Businesses Reaping the Benefits of High Trust

Morning Consult’s list of the most trusted brands in the US in 2024 includes Band-Aid, Kleenex, Dove, Visa, Lysol, and Amazon. Outside this list, we believe other brands are widely considered trustworthy, like Patagonia, Johnson and Johnson, and Costco, for example.

Which begs the question, what do these brands have in common that may earn the trust of consumers?

Trusted Brands are Reliable and Consistent

Customers know what to expect from these brands, leading to increased trust, confidence, and loyalty.

Trusted Brands Have Customer-Centric Operations

These companies tend to place customer focus at the forefront of their operations. Amazon makes returns easy and affordable, while Band-Aid (which consistently ranks amongst the most trusted brands in the US) has built a brand image around making people feel physically safe and cared for.

Value Seems Especially Important During High Inflation

With inflation at such high levels, consumers seem to prefer brands they know offer good value – even over lower prices.

How to Build Trust in The Age of Misinformation

Start With Your Employees

Businesses can benefit substantially by building trust with employees. Edelman’s findings reveal that people trust their employers more today than any other institution. This is a significant opportunity for employers.

Employers can build stronger bonds with (and retain) employees by fostering a culture of safety and transparency. We’re also seeing an increase in the number of businesses opting to implement mis-and-disinformation and/or media literacy training.

Helpfully, empowering your employees to better comprehend the media they see (digital literacy/information literacy) can improve problem-solving, critical thinking, confidence, innovation, productivity, and efficiency. In other words, employers directly benefit from providing this training, too.

Build Trust into Your Branding

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building a trusted brand. Instead, companies should generally focus on reliably and consistently improving the lives of their customers and providing value on any expenditure.

Companies can also consider:

  • Defining and sharing core corporate values beyond profits.
  • ‘Walking the talk’ and aligning corporate actions (and spending) with those values.
  • Acknowledging mistakes and transparently discussing what you’ve learned and why things will be different next time.
  • Increasing clarity and accessibility, including through Privacy UX.
  • Being involved in the local community.
  • Exceeding customer expectations (customer excellence).
  • Ensuring all employees understand and exhibit brand values and messaging.

It’s important to remember that you will need to consistently demonstrate these values if you want to reap the long-term benefits.

​Read more about the Edelman Trust Barometer 2024 report.

And as always, reach out if you need assistance with your business legals. We’d love to assist.


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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