Ask an amateur marketer about the key to success and you’ll get a wide variety of different answers. From eye-catching design to engaging headlines, both branding experts and direct marketers cite a variety of tools that create marketing success.

Ask an expert marketer, however, and you’ll only ever hear one response: trust.

From building confidence in your brand to encouraging people to buy your latest product, trust is the glue that binds the vast majority of marketing efforts together and produces real results.

Building trust is difficult, especially for a new business. People trust brands like Nike and Microsoft because they’ve known them for years. How can your small business, with its limited marketing budget, ever hope to compete?

The key to building trust quickly is design elements. From laurel leaves to logos and testimonials, using certain elements in your brochures, direct mail pieces and other marketing items will build trust in your business, even if it’s relatively new.

In this guide, we’ve listed five design elements to use in your marketing materials to increase trust in your business. If your business is new and looking to grow, try each and every one of them and watch as your brand’s trust level grows exponentially.

Logos from trusted clients

Does your business provide a useful service? If your company is trusted by brands that your target audience is familiar with, make sure you feature the brands you’re working with in your marketing communications.

Speak to your existing clients and ask if you can use their logos in your brochures or on your website to build trust. The logos of trusted brands you’re currently working with strengthen your company’s image and increase trust among prospects.

Testimonials from customers

Testimonials are incredibly powerful marketing tools, especially when they’re from people similar to your target customer profile. If you have satisfied customers, talk to them and ask if they could provide a testimonial for your marketing efforts.

Satisfied customers will be happy to support your business, as associating with your brand also strengthens their own company’s brand. Use testimonials strategically in brochures and sales letters to increase confidence in your business.

Laurel leaves and other symbols

Some symbols carry a huge amount of prestige. Laurel leaves, for example, are the sign of authority and artistic prestige, particularly in the film industry, and are one of the biggest features of awards and other congratulatory documents.

What symbols are associated with prestige in your industry? Using symbols, signs and other visual identifiers of your brand’s prestige and trust in your marketing is an excellent way to strengthen your brand and increase customer confidence.

Photos of happy customers

Did you know that photos can build trust in your business? Instead of using photos of your product in your advertising, use photos of people using your product. This seemingly tiny change has a huge effect on people’s trust in your brand.

Why? The answer is simple: people become more confident when they see others using your product or service successfully. A smiling, happy customer is a simple, effective visual indicator that your product is worth purchasing and using.

Awards and seals of approval

Has your product been recommended by a magazine or newspaper? If your target audience is familiar with the publication, use its logo – along with test stating that your product was featured or reviewed – to build trust and authority status.

Likewise, if your product has received an award or seal of approval from a famous or well-known brand, use it to your advantage. Logos of approving publications or organizations can have a huge positive influence on your marketing campaigns.