But there are a lot of different theories about the nature of trust -- what it is exactly, what it's based on, how it's lost, and how to win it back.
Based on the reading and research I've been doing over the last few years, I've begun sketching out a model of the drivers of trust. It's in the typical 2 by 2 matrix that consultants seem to love, but I think it captures some important concepts.
Basically, I start from the not terribly original idea that trust has both rational and emotional components.
Let's call the emotional component "affinity" for now. What I mean by affinity is someone's feeling that they like a brand, have something in common with it, feel warmly towards it.
I call the rational component "competency" and it is someone's assessment of a brand's capabilities along dimensions that are important to them.
Since it's a 2 by 2 matrix, we can speculate about the typical response to different combinations of affinity and competence, as illustrated in this chart.
If a brand is thought to be highly competent but to have low affinity, the typical response is likely to be "wary respect." That's probably how a lot of people feel about many investment banks these days.
If a brand is low on both affinity and competency, the likely response is "distrust." That's probably how most conservative Republicans feel about President Obama.
If a brand is high on affinity but low on competency, the probable response is "disappointment." That's probably how most liberal Democrats feel about Obamacare right now.
And if a brand is high on both affinity and competency, the likely response is "trust." I hesitate to nominate any brand for that hallowed position, but that's probably the way most Catholics feel about Pope Francis at the moment, despite what they may think about the church he heads.
Looking at trust through this model suggests what steps a brand should take when it moves from one quadrant to another among a significant segment of publics. But I'd welcome reactions to this still-evolving model.