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Businesses today face a struggle that stems from modernity and the change in which the commercial world has undergone in order to connect or maintain relevance. We’re talking about brand authority. There’s a balance between being the friendly, approachable, neighborhood business that everyone loves and being the authoritative brand that proves its know-how and position in the marketplace.
The first part is easy, and we’ve covered it several times. Find a voice or identity that resonates with your audience, and they’ll listen to you as if you were one of them. That’s an incredibly shorthand version of it, so you can read more about brand identity here.
The second part is what we’re focusing on today: establishing brand authority.
What is Brand Authority?
Brand authority is what sets your brand as an expert in its field. Why is Hive Art Media a specialist (yup, that’s us) in digital marketing? How is IMDB the go-to place for all movie and TV data? What makes Etsy the leading marketplace for artisanal handcrafted goods?
The beauty of these examples is that we don’t have to think about it; it’s second nature. You think, “who played that one guy in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie?”, and your immediate reaction is the IMDB it. See, it’s even a verb. That’s the level of authority it has over its market.
In order to have brand authority you have to know what your brand is, what it provides, and build a library of information that shows your expertise—one that customers can rely on. You need to prove that you are the expert in your field. The beauty of it all is there are countless ways to do it, you just need to research and utilize the one that reaches your current and potential audience most.
How to Build Brand Authority
Create Meaningful, Well-Researched Content
Be the one that answers the questions your customers have before they reach your customer service team. Of course, it’s a great idea to have top-quality customer service, but if you can create content that answers pressing questions, then you won’t need to have a huge team of representatives on-call 24/7. Use audience, demographic, and keyword research to answer questions people already have.
Businesses today understand the importance of keeping up a blog or some level of social content. But many only do it to be on trend without realizing how this type of content serves them and their customers. Your blog/content isn’t only an inlet to draw in potential customers, it’s a way to be informative.
Think about how many times you’ve Googled something, clicked a link that sounded oh so promising only to discover the information posted was full of nothing. Yeah, that article must be great for SEO, but it left a sour taste in the mouths of every viewer.
Be confident in the information you provide. Confidence leads to authority. If you publish something that tiptoes around the topic and has 1001 links to “contact us about setting up an account today”, then you have no brand authority. This shows fear; the fear that if you give out your “brand secrets”, then no one will buy your service.
Instead, if you publish super informative, well-researched content with outbound links to reputable sites, then viewers will trust you even more. And that trust leads to sales.
Focus on the Platform Your Audience Uses Most
Whether it’s a blog, YouTube, Tik Tok, or something else, discover how your audience wants to consume verifiable content and go there. You can use trendier platforms to supplement your real content, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact your brand.
For example: if you are a makeup artist, it would make sense to use YouTube to publish content like how-tos, dos-and-don’ts, history-ofs, reviews, and more with references in your captions. YouTube is the ideal place because it can be easily accessed on any device, you can utilize specific YouTube SEO practices, and share your content out to other platforms with ease. Then, post teasers on Instagram and Tik Tok to give viewers a taste and entice them to view further. In the example, your authority remains on YouTube, so if views fluctuate on the other platforms, it won’t ultimately harm your reputation or sales.
Embrace Social Proof
People follow by example, especially when they think the example is the correct move. What does this mean for brand authority? Think about it in the sense of user reviews and case studies. These are proof that your brand’s service is real, worked, and the person or company who used it saw a positive outcome. Others will follow this lead if you share the results.
Be careful when using testimonials because visitors can spot a fake one from a mile away. Make sure you get permission to use it from the user. Soon, you’ll see a surge in positivity surrounding your brand.
Case studies are a great way to incorporate data into your social proof. Similar to a before-and-after snippet, you outline the problems that customer was having before using your service and then you outline the after with data, graphics, and infographics. There’s nothing more authoritative than cold hard facts that boost your business’ acumen.
Let Your Employees Show Their Own Expertise
Don’t confuse authority with control. You don’t need to control the user-generated content of your brand or the content published by employees. You need to embrace it, challenge it (sometimes), promote it, and solve it (if there is a problem).
While much effort goes into humanizing a brand, arguably the same amount of effort should go into recognizing the people who turn the wheels of that brand. Employees are people with a voice. Let them express their opinions openly about the work they do or the vibe of the office.
Even employees who have overcome some type of struggle within the company humanizes the brand and reinforces brand authority. This argument is half letting your employees speak for the brand and half sharing internal opinions about the brand. That’s not an invitation to let the most problematic employee rant about how someone keeps eating what’s in their labeled food containers. It’s about sharing a personal story that reflects the brand’s core ideals into each employee.
Set your brand apart from the rest with a strong, identifiable brand identity to communicate authority. Logo, color schemes, tone, graphics—everything should align. This translates to authority in a few different ways.
One way might be because your brand is visually bold, and boldness translates to confidence translates to authority. Another is simply owning what makes your brand stand out, like a minimalist design that lets your products stand out.
For example, MailChimp uses two colors: yellow and black. The bold statement reflects their dominance on email marketing as well as the ease of use of their service. Two colors, two steps: Sign up, then send your email. It’s that simple. The authority they convey is apparent from miles away.
Another great example is Public Goods. Their visual identity is minimal and natural, much like the products they sell. The minimalism doesn’t come across as bold or standoffish, it’s more about letting the incredible products they create speak for the brand.
Find out what’s driving your sales and what your customers are interested in. Then, use it to create an identity that’s authoritative and unique.
Ready to Start Building Brand Authority?
You have the tools and the knowledge. There’s nothing stopping you from developing a winning strategy towards building brand authority. It won’t be instant and it might not be easy, but it will certainly be worth it once you see results in the way of viewers, followers, and sales.
Brand authority is about building trust between you and the customer. They want an expert voice, a go-to when they have a question, a problem, or even a solution. It’s never too late to build authority for your brand. Start now and save your bottom line for the near future.