TÜV SÜD Overview
The legacy of TÜV SÜD began back in 1865 when a series of unfortunate accidents and fatal consequences from the faults of the steam engines during the Industrial Revolution gave rise to an entirely new global industry. Specifically, the Mannheim Aktienbrauerei boiler explosion in January of that year prompted systematic inspections and monitoring intended to prevent accidents and safeguard workers from injuries and even death. Since then, TÜV SÜD has been operating as a number of internationally active service companies and trusted partners of choice when it comes to the solutions associated with safety, security, and sustainability. The purpose of the company is to “enable progress by protecting people, the environment, and assets from technology-related risks” (“Mission & Vision,” no date). TÜV SÜD claims that its contribution to the industry is to “Add value. Inspire trust,” which is the essence of the organizations’ mission and vision operating within the industry. Therefore, at the core of the company’s mission is the desire to facilitate technological progress and innovative change without the detriment of human health and safety. In addition, it continuously works on defining the standards of safety and going beyond regulatory compliance to create safer technological environments.
Considering the role that TÜV SÜD plays in the global arena, such as the management of risks within a broad portfolio of technical solutions, the perception of customers regarding the brand’s identity is crucial to consider. The way in which the company is being perceived plays a significant role in whether clients would pay money to receive the services as a measure of how well the company establishes trust and signalizes security. For example, the sign of trust in the competency and reputation of TÜV SÜD is choosing the technological solutions approved by this specific organization rather than by any other. A seal of approval given by the company to a particular product or service may signalize to customers that they are safe to use it. A TÜV SÜD’s approved item should transfer such facets as the trust in a brand, the safety of the product, its reliability, and high quality. Therefore, this paper aims to determine whether a good perception of the company’s brand identity leads to the choice of products with a proven TÜV SÜD safety seal or certificate.
Seals and certificates are usually awarded to products or services that have met the desired standards associated with safety, sustainability, and quality. Having a seal by a reputable organization is expected to let customers know that what they are planning to purchase has been tested against the established standards, thus having transparent proof of performance from an independent certification body. The symbol of certification on a brand can be used for a variety of purposes, although the main one is reputation-oriented, specifically, to demonstrate that a brand is credible and legitimate and has been proven to be successful enough to get a seal of approval.
Numerous studies have been conducted to determine whether trust seals have a notable effect on the behavior of consumers. For instance, research conducted by Actual Insights revealed that seals of approval and trust logos increased the perceived trustworthiness of a brand in 75% of respondents. In addition, the same study showed that 61% of involved consumers indicated that they remembered the time when they did not pay for something because it did not have a seal of approval from a reputable organization. Another research carried out by the same team found that the success of approval logos relied on whether or not potential customers recognize the logo that is being placed on products or services. Examples of the most trustworthy seals included McAffee Secure, PayPal, BBB, Verisign, and TRUSTe. Thus, the second study by Actual Insights showed that having a trust seal on an item significantly increased the chances of customers getting that product, which is something that companies should consider when developing their brand reputation.
Theory and Research Status
There are different aspects of security and trust that should be considered in the discussion of approval seals’ influence on customer behavior. Since brands are customer-centric and require people to purchase their products to make a profit, building trust means being honest to the consumer, being consistent, offering value, and putting the interests of people first. These aspects increase the chances of a company being trusted by consumers. Signalizing trust can be done through a range of vehicles, such as close communication with customers on social media platforms, being open and transparent about the process of product or service production, sourcing, and sustainability, owning up to any mistakes that have been made, as well as treat employees ethically and responsibly.
The more customers trust a certain brand, the more likely they will purchase the products or services provided. In such a context, brand identity is a tangible thing and appears to the senses of consumers: they can touch an item, hold it, watch it move, or hear it. It fuels recognition, increases differentiation, and unifies the disparate elements, unifying them in whole systems. The creation of a trusted brand identity includes considerations of a brand’s name, a recognizable logo, a unique communication style, as well as other elements that consumers will be perceived. The perception of value and trust is closely related to brand identity and the loyalty of customers. The latter has a particular perception about a brand value, and the function of such perception has a different value from the perspectives of various people. Thus, when customers have a perception of a brand, there is a chance that they trust it.
Customer Survey: TÜV SÜD Seals
To answer the research question, a qualitative survey will be conducted, involving real participants. Such surveys will prioritize qualitative research values harnessing the extensive potential of qualitative data, providing extensive opportunities for exploration (Braun et al., 2020). They will consist of a number of open-ended questions that have been developed by a researcher and centered on a specific product. The surveys may be self-administered, with the questions presented in a standardized and fixed order to all participants involved (Braun et al., 2020). The aim of the survey is to determine whether a TÜV SÜD seal of approval makes it, so customers perceive products as higher quality compared to non-approved ones, and thus are more likely to choose them over others. Beyond the quality aspect, a seal on a product can be perceived as more secure, longer-lasting, or tested with the highest requirements associated with safe use. Such facets of a product may or may not have an effect on customers’ purchasing decision, which is based on brand trust and loyalty.
Research on brand identity has been extended due to the need to explore its influence on customers’ purchasing decisions. There is a general consensus in the research on a brand image that organizations should work on creating high-value products in order to sustain a positive brand identity and the subsequently improved perception by customers (Wu & Chen, 2019). According to Venkatalakshmi (2015), brand identity helps develop close relationships between customers and a company. A positive brand identity has been shown to be an indicator of customers’ value perception, satisfaction, and trust in a company. As suggested by Mindrut et al. (2015), associating a particular product with a strong brand identity is a crucial factor in industry competitive advantage, which may lead to financial rewards for organizations. Moreover, the smaller is the difference between the perceived brand image and the aimed brand identity, the more efficient is the brand identity strategy (Kuoksa, 2017).
Thus, brand identity is an essential part of organizations’ strategies and represents what brands stand for and how they are being perceived (Buil et al., 2016). Through the combination of different vehicles, ranging from logo design to customer support efforts, companies can create a favorable identity to align with their strategic objectives. Besides, in conjunction with other elements, such as mission and values, a brand identity helps to reflect the best aspects of a business and leave customers with a positive impression. In turn, this generates awareness of the brand among the target market (Lievens & Slaughter, 2015). Therefore, research on the topic of brand identity and its perception by customers suggests that the phenomenon is closely related to successful strategic development.
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