Are You Building Enough ‘Warm’ Trust?

July 04, 2016 | Christophe Fauconnier

How do brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, TED and Toms succeed in unlocking so much social productivity? The answer lies in the type of trust they build. They have succeeded because when it comes to trust, they build it both warm and cold.

Warm trust addresses the question: “Can I trust that you care?”
Cold trust addresses the question: “Can I trust that you can deliver?”

Both types of trust matter but the reality is that most businesses and brands tend to only focus on cold trust. They do not know how to build warm trust, the trust that is key for unlocking more meaningful growth.

Demonstrating warm trust is done through your social business models, company values, and your purpose commitments to making a difference.

Demonstrating cold trust is done through product or service proof points that you can manage and control.

Cold trust builds authority, warm trust builds community.
Cold trust often blocks social productivity, warm trust unlocks it.

When we refer to social productivity we refer to the ability to achieve goals for others and ourselves, beyond what can be achieved by means of transactional engagements.

Let me give an example:

TED was aiming to expand its organizational reach and globally broaden its mission of “ideas worth spreading” but it was constrained by the small size of the team. In response to this challenge, the organization created TEDx over which it has limited control. The TEDx events are organized locally by volunteers who have no affiliation with TED; other than as a licensor of the brand. TED lets go of its brand and business model, which most business people would call suicide. TED trusts that its community will guard the brand well, which it does, and it unlocked the contributional capacities of many people on a voluntary basis.

The TED team originally anticipated that 30 or so TEDx events would occur annually. That estimate slightly missed the mark. That number became 1500 events in more than 168 countries. That is 7 a day. TED itself employs 150 people but TEDx engages more than 50 thousand volunteers. In return, TED has received more than 65 000 videos of its short, highly curated TED Talks, which have been viewed more than 2 billion times.

TED is a business that can count on both warm and cold trust from many people, and it certainly delivers on a great product experience, but the reason why this venture got wings is because it was fueled by a warm trust business model, a meaningful purpose to commit to and strong values that can engage many people on an identity level.

So here is the question to ask yourself: Are you doing enough to build warm trust?

If you would like to learn more about building warm trust, read my next blog post on the four building blocks for building warm trust.


Posted By Christophe Fauconnier

As a white South African growing up under the Apartheid regime, Christophe was often viewed as a little troublemaker. He could never stop challenging narrow-mindedness and scarcity thinking, which lead to problems with several power institutions.   Christophe is co-author of several books like the Naked Consumer Today, Creating Value People to People, Activists Dare to Care and Beyond the Powergirl. He has a masters degree in both Psychology and Marketing and he is a serial entrepreneur. Currently, he is C.E.O of the Innate Motion Group and a board member of African Drive, in/PACT and B Corp Europe. Bringing human sense to business in a world that applies too much business sense to humans is what he and the folks at Innate Motion do best and Christophe has done this with the people who lead some of the best brands and companies in the world.

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