It’s maddening to watch the results of Volkswagen’s betrayal of its customers compound every day with new revelations.

Customers, employees, shareholders and governments are left to deal with broken promises of high performance and clean diesel technology. Volkswagen is left with the herculean task of rebuilding “Das Auto.”

All of this turmoil erupted because of a fundamental flaw. The value of their customers’ trust in the Volkswagen brand wasn’t entered into their business equation.

Trust is one of the most prized personality traits. An often-cited psychology study tells us the top 10 personality traits ranked as most likable are:1


What we value most in relationships is sincerity and honesty. This creates the trust at the heart of great friendships, partnerships and societies.

What is true of people is also true of brands. We spend our precious time, money and resources on the brands we trust. Your list may vary, but here’s a list of the most trusted brands in the U.S according to Reader’s Digest. These brands provide consistent value over time and they deliver what they promise.

Readers’ Digest Announces America’s 42 Most Trusted Brands

Building great brands depends on building trust between everyone in the organization and with every customer. If trust is there from day one, it will be there when you need it most.

We have Volkswagen to thank for a dramatic lesson on what happens when trust is sacrificed for profit.

1. Likeableness Ratings of 555 Personality-Trait Words, Norman A. Anderson, University of California, San Diego, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1968, Vol. 9, No. 3, 272-279

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