Your brand reputation is at stake if the way you communicate with your customers can’t be trusted. Trust still matters – just ask a few of the people who have lost it recently.

But how do you get it back when the stories you’ve printed in your newspaper, or published online, turn out to be ‘fake news’?

How do you convince the next blue chip client your accounting firm is working with that the very public mix up over the Oscar winner for Best Picture was just a one in a million mistake, and that it won’t happen again?

How do you get people to believe anything you say as a leader (business or otherwise), when online fact checkers are rebutting the shocking stats you’ve just tweeted, just as they go viral?

And finally, does any of it really matter, in the long run? In a world where so much information is demanding our attention, is anyone really bothered if the lines between fact and fiction get blurred sometimes? If you don’t like it, just press delete and move on.

Well, we think there are a few implications for the kind of communications we deal with here. You can very easily break customer trust through poorly executed Direct Mail. Just last week a female colleague was fuming about a company calling her ‘Mr’ – needless to say, that communication went straight in the bin.

We feel that the minute you start to make mistakes with your data or your facts, nothing less than the reputation of your brand is at stake. You’ve gone from being a trusted business who cares about its customers’ needs to potentially just another merciless corporate entity that will do and say anything to get a sale.

This might not be a problem in itself – there are plenty of very successful businesses that are pretty hard to love, but trust is still important if you’re trying to build long term loyalty. You might deal with a shark once, but you probably won’t go back.

A study published in Marketing Week last year showed loyalty is primarily driven by likability (86% of consumers say) and trust (83%). So, building trust still matters, maybe more now than ever before. Whether it’s the reliability of the stats you share with your customers, the way you handle their data sensitively, or the transparency of your processes and how you deal with people ethically when things go wrong, it’s all about building a healthy relationship between your brand and the people you want to fall in love with it.

Communicating with them honestly, in a way that is tailored to their needs and that is based on reliable data, is critical. It shows them that you’re listening, that you respect and understand their needs, and that maybe – just maybe – your brand, and your voice, is deserving of their attention too.