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We value consistency

According to our 10 Most Trustworthy Brands study, Orange County residents place product performance over interpersonal elements.

By Steve ChurmPublished: April 01, 2010

We’ve all gone rummaging through that top desk drawer looking for one thing, only to stumble onto something else, something even more surprising. The editors of this magazine and the founders of a new Santa Ana-based think tank spent five months asking Orange County consumers which companies they trust most, and why. Scores of survey respondents selected the 10 Most Trustworthy Brands in this county. On the preceding pages, OC METRO Editor-in-Chief Tina Borgatta and journalist Jerry Hicks tell the stories behind those companies and how they created cultures of trust that have attracted loyal customers.
   
But along the way, a second story line emerged, one that paints a broader picture about how Orange Countians build relationships with brands and with each other. The findings say something about who we are and why we are different. Orange County consumers place a higher premium on the consistency of a product or service and its ability to meet our expectations than on the deeper, more personal ingredients of connection, sincerity or concern. Historically, national trust studies have probed these five basic characteristics: ability, consistency, connection, sincerity and concern.
The Orange County survey developed by the Values Institute at DGWB followed the same academic path, so we could compare our findings to the earlier studies. What we found was that Orange Countians appear less interested in getting personal with a retailer or institution. What we want is a brand we can count on. We know what we want, and we will accept nothing less. Consistency and quality in our products and services are the bottom line. It’s not about building a personal connection with a brand, something that may happen in other regions with more history. It’s about the ability of a product to deliver every time. Remember, this is Orange County, where appearance, lifestyle and consumption are often the measure of success.
   
Orange County is a Cuisinart of cultures and beliefs that is still relatively young in its evolution. Our connection may be tied to where we have come from, not where we live now. We have moved to Orange County, or continue to live here, because it is fresh, always changing and on the forefront of California’s leading edge when it comes to global innovation, entertainment, business and master-planned living. We are one of the world’s leading medical device centers. We also boast one of the highest per-capita ratios for plastic surgery. Apparently, there’s not enough time between our entrepreneurial drive, Botox injections and happy hours to get involved with concern, connection and sincerity. Harsh? Not really. Orange County is unique. It is one of the most desirable places to live. I was raised here and then returned to run a business for the past 20 years. I live here and love it. I am bullish about our future as a community. Survey results aside, there is a growing groundswell from the leadership at the Values Institute, and other forward thinkers like the Ethical Edge’s Russell Williams, to put the issue of trust, behavior and respect on the table for all of us to chew on.  schurm@churmmedia.com