When they say it in John Hughes films, having a “problem with authority” sounds pretty cool. When talking about your brand authority, not so much.
Brand authority is the extent to which customers trust your brand and view your brand or business as a subject matter expert in your space.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of what it means to have brand authority, and how you can use your expertise, presence, and relationship with customers to make your name known and corner your market.
What is brand authority?
Brand authority is earned, not given. When your brand has authority, it means you have the power to start conversations, contribute ideas and solutions, and make decisions that others in your space will invest in, with time, money, and other resources. Brand authority becomes brand influence.
Brands with authority include super-brands like Samsung, Coca-Cola, or Disney, but can also include other influential entities like celebrities, nonprofits/charities, or social media.
Here’s a local example: Masa Taqueria is a craft taqueria in Providence, RI that operates out of a few different kitchens. Over the last couple years, they’ve earned the trust of loyal followers and become an authority in the local taco space, specifically for their quesabirria tacos. How do we know that Masa has brand authority? Because in the last few months, several longstanding taco joints in Providence have suddenly added quesabirria to their menu. Coincidence? I think not.
When your brand has authority, people trust you to lead the way – and when you do, other businesses will follow.
Walk like an expert, talk like an expert
Who are you more likely to trust to estimate your shoe size: a professor with their PhD in Mathematics, or a floor worker at Reebok?
Being an expert isn’t about knowing everything; it’s about knowing what’s important to your audience or customers. In order to earn brand authority, you need to prove that you know what you’re talking about.
Here are three ways to prove your expertise in your field:
- Your team
Get yourself a team of pros
Whether you have 5 years of experience in an industry or you’re the fifth generation such-and-such in your trade, expertise is more than a solo effort. One of the best ways to prove yourself as a leader and authority is to acknowledge what you don’t know and surround yourself with a team of experts that can fill in the gaps. This is going to make you and your business more well-rounded and better prepared to serve your clients.
From savvy salespersons and brand managers, to expert product developers and human resources leaders, when you bolster your team with folks of different capabilities and backgrounds, you grow your brand’s ability to service the evolving needs of your clients, which ultimately results in a more trusting and loyal customer base.
Client testimonials: don’t trust us, trust them
Did you know that a product ranking on Amazon is less influenced by price, shipping, or manufacturer, and more influenced by the reviews of the product? This could be because 90% of customers who buy online say that their purchasing choices are influenced by product reviews.
In my personal experience, I’m far more likely to buy a product if someone else recommends it to me. And I don’t just mean on Amazon – whether it’s bookstores, coffee shops, even last-minute visits to the movie theater, if someone says, “hey, this was good, try it!” … I probably will.
The same logic applies to your business. While it’s all well and good to say you’ve got the “best-in-class” this or the “cutting edge” that, the truth is that your potential customers will trust you more if someone other than you is giving out those kudos.
Want to let everyone know that you’re an expert? Hand the megaphone over to your top clients and let them do the talking for you. Whether it’s a downloadable written case study or an in-depth client testimonial video, customer reviews are a quick way to build up your reputation, show your expertise, and appeal to a new pool of prospects.
Expert content expertly delivers
Speaking of written case studies and quality video, you’ll have a hard time proving you’re an expert without the content to support it.
“Content” is one of those sticky, trendy marketing words that gets tossed around a lot, but what it really means is anything that gets your message out there. Content includes things like traditional advertising – billboards, flyers, etc. – as well as online campaigns, like social media and blog posts. It also includes more complex mediums like video, podcasts, and interactive web pages.
Depending on your business, different content may better support how you want to make a case for yourself as an expert. For example, a printing company may focus their content creation efforts on producing the best possible sales sheet and mailer. That content serves two purposes: one, inform your potential customer with important numbers and facts about your business, and two, show the quality of your print design, production, and delivery.
On the other hand, a company that sells food or beverage might be better suited by a video that shows the process of hand-making or creating their product. Relatedly, an insurance company might be more interested in creating a series of blogs about different life stage insurance policies and how to safeguard yourself for retirement and beyond.
One content type does not fit all businesses, but every business needs content to show that they are the right fit for their customers.
Brand presence and brand authority
In college, I played on an intramural basketball team called the Monstars (shoutout to the original Space Jam). Somehow, despite being a team of freshmen, we managed to make it to the finals during playoffs, where we were scheduled to play the 3-time champion, all-senior team, the Dunk’n’ Donuts (yikes). Fully expecting to take the “L,” we laced up on game day only to find out that the other team wasn’t coming. By default, we were crowned the champions – victory T-shirts and all.
The lesson? You can’t be the best in the game if you don’t show up for the tip-off.
When it comes to building your brand authority, brand awareness and recognition are key to success. This means establishing your presence in the right spaces, including online and in person.
Building your brand in digital spaces
This isn’t new information: the world has gone digital, which means your brand and business needs to go digital, too. We’ve got plenty more about that for you to read here.
However, as far as brand authority goes, the basics are as follows: your business needs to be in the places where people are going to actually see it.
From a digital perspective, this mainly includes:
- Your business’s website
- Your business’s social media
- How your business appears in search (paid, organic)
Brand presence: your website
First of all, make sure your business has a website. These days, folks are a lot more likely to look up your site than they are to look up your phone number, or even email address. Make sure that your website has a “Contact Us” option that allows prospects and customers to send you an email directly from your site. This streamlined process builds trust with customers and shows them that you know how to facilitate a smooth communication process.
Brand presence: your social media
For some businesses, the prospect of running their social media accounts can be daunting. The good news is that depending on your business, social media may not be as important to your audience. This is similar to what we discussed earlier in terms of content types: some audiences will be receptive to social media and accredit more authority to your brand for using it, while others may be indifferent towards it. The best way to figure this out is by asking yourself, first, “Does my audience use these platforms?” and second, “Are other competitors in my space using these platforms?” To return to our sports metaphor, you don’t have to play the game if there are no spectators and no other teams in the league.
Brand presence: your search results
Finally, your brand won’t earn any authority if folks can’t find it. Make sure you are putting the right efforts behind your paid advertising and local search so that when people Google your business in your area, you show up right away. Down the line, you’ll want to think about things like organic search – including strategic content and SEO – but that’s something that a long-term marketing partner like Trailblaze can help you with when you’re ready.
From brand authority to brand loyalty
Know your stuff and show up – those are two key components of brand authority. The third is reliability. This includes everything from a quick response rate in customer service, to consistently good product reviews, or regularly published content that effectively addresses audience concerns. It also includes the cornerstones of your brand identity, including how well you adhere to your business values and mission.
When your business reliability delivers good results, it builds not only brand authority, but brand trust, and when you have brand trust, you create brand loyalty.
At the end of the day, brand authority isn’t just about power, it’s about respect. That’s the true mark of a brand, business, and market leader.
Want to learn more about how Trailblaze can help build authority for your business? Schedule a call with us today.