Brand equity is defined as “a set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand name and symbol, which add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service”. If company’s assets strongly outweigh its liabilities, then brand equity can be used to boost customer loyalty, deepen customer relationships and optimize pricing. Brand equity is essentially underpinned and defined by the values a company or organization’s customers feel when they connect.

Cyber security of course then, plays a huge role in an organization’s brand equity, since after all brand equity shadows the trust customers have in the company. Interestingly though, that “despite well-publicized incidences of cyber security breaches, very few organizations are attempting to claim confidence in their cyber security as a way to restore consumer trust.” In this case it doesn’t mean that organizations shouldn’t be doing it, but rather that they just haven’t caught on yet. Therefore, building customer trust by activating powerful cyber security principles and actions and sharing it, is an opportunity to get ahead of competitors.

The development that technology has gone through in the last 3 years, let alone the last 15 years, is immense. Payments can be made with the touch of a finger on a smartphone, social media has revolutionized marketing and small devices can track your whereabouts. It’s quite incredible, and while young consumers often appear to “demonstrate implicit trust in the security of the data they share or that organization hold about them”, generally users are wary, and increasingly so. For very good reason too – data breaches are no longer a matter of if and when, but instead have become accepted (however customers do expect organization to do all they can to prevent them).

Much like in real-life, trust is to be earned. Organizations and companies need to earn their trust of their users and customers, by showing that their data is safe with them. And as we all know, once trust is broken, it is a lot harder to regain.

An EY discussion on cyber trust sheds light on the idea of cyber trust as brand equity. The three basic principles of this system are as follows:

  • Organizations should openly and proactively lead the discussion on cyber crime from the front
  • Openly speak about the risks of a breach, but also openly disclose what steps are being taken to prevent and detect risks
  • Learn from breaches: organizations should use actual breaches as an opportunity to teach their customers how they will manage when crisis strikes

Underprepared organizations that don’t even speak about the risk of security breaches with their customers puts them at risk of completely losing their trust in the event of an attack.

It doesn’t stop at communication however. Organizations need to go above and beyond in order to gain trust and keep it. Everyone may be doing two-step factor authentication and it may be working for now – but there is always more that can be done in order to reassure. Take for example the banking industry: customers are provided with a card reader to make online transactions more secure, but if my bank relied on a combination of my biometric data and unique volatile data on my smartphone, then I’d feel even more secure as that level of encryption is much more difficult to break.

As soon as word breaks out about high levels of safety and security, a brand’s equity is only going to grow. Communication and doing more in order to gain cyber trust with customers should be at the forefront of not just a marketing campaign, but an organization’s core values.