How To Build Brand Authority As Your Sole Business Goal

Build Brand Authority

Learn to build brand authority. It may surprise you that your business needs only this one goal to get going.

The more you build on your brand authority, your 360° business success will automatically follow … like traffic, conversions, sales, revenues, profits, market leadership, and expansion opportunities …

Most beginner businesses and brands begin with entrepreneurial eagerness and excitement. But they don’t quite know where to begin the journey towards success. They aim at all the wrong goals and often too many of them.

A lot of time, money, and effort gets wasted in planning and pursuing these wrong starter goals. It’s said that hardly 5% of all SMEs get past the early first year to survive into the next one.

I have you covered here with 8 sterling ideas to start focusing on growing brand authority. Don’t waste more time on peripheral objectives that you’ll achieve anyway. Focus on the big one that delivers all.

Contents ...

To find a special gift waiting for you on this page, click the button below to take a peek, before you read on … 

What is brand authority? And how exactly do you define it?

One definition of brand authority I resonate with is this one from Paige Weiners in Forbes.com:

Page Weiners

"Brand authority is a big part of helping consumers trust a company, and trust is absolutely critical to acquiring and keeping customers. Having brand authority means consumers will feel confident that you know what you’re doing, and thus that their money is well spent with your company."

A simpler way to define brand authority is this other one from Shannon Curley in Trailblaze.marketing:

Shannon-Curley

"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. 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."

We can gather from ideas like these that brand authority gets built as market and customer trust in your brand gets built. Trust makes people believe you’re more than capable of giving them exactly what they want. Trust also hinges on the fact that you’re as good as your word on the expertise you imply you have.

Stats Corner: 10 data points to spur brand authority building

  1. 81% of consumers need to a trust a brand to consider buying from it. (Edelman)
  2. Only 31% of consumers say they trust most of the brands they use. (Edelman)
  3. Two-thirds of consumers think it’s annoying when brands make fun of their competitors. (Sprout Social)
  4. 64% of shoppers have stopped buying from brands with poor employer reputations. (Career Arc)
  5. 94% of marketers believe that personalized marketing has a positive effect on brand-building. (Salesforce)
  6. 70% of brand marketers list building brand awareness as their top goal for social media. (SproutSocial)
  7. 64% of consumers have tagged a branded hashtag on social media. (Tint)
  8. Brand consistency can increase revenue by 10-20%. (Lucidpress)
  9. 47% of brands publish off-brand content at least a few times per year. (Lucidpress)
  10. 15% of companies don’t have brand guidelines. (Lucidpress)

The 8 super-practical steps to building brand authority

Here is my list of 8 important but practical steps to build your brand authority. It’s a battle-tested plan I have used to grow my entrepreneurial venture.
8-steps-to-build-brand-authority-infographic
(Please use this infographic with credits intact.) 

1. Demarcate your niche or sweet spot of expertise

Your niche (meaning “corner”) is the area or topic where you are either experienced or knowledgeable. It could also be an area of deep personal passion or a field of activity in which you love to immerse yourself.

The more the topic absorbs and engages you, the more expertise you develop. Because you are constantly interested in learning more about it, you have a natural lead over others in how much you know.

Your niche also needs to be an area where many others would want the specialized knowledge you have, either as knowledge or as products or services. There has to be a good demand for your help that makes your niche profitable for you.

You should be able to charge for offering products and services in this niche. When you spell out your brand authority, discover and demarcate this niche to make it your own.

6 tips to identify your best branding niche to soar with ...

1. Identify your passions and areas of expertise: What topics or industries do you have a strong personal interest in or extensive knowledge of? This can be a good starting point for finding a marketing niche. To build your branding, you have to write a lot of content, so you’d better choose a niche you can enjoy working on daily.

2. Consider your strengths and expertise: What skills and knowledge do you have that you can use to your advantage in your marketing efforts? This can help you identify a niche that aligns with your strengths and allows you to showcase your expertise. You don’t need a  formal educational degree of proficiency. It can be a niche where you have street smarts. 

3. Research the competition: Look at what other businesses in your industry are doing and how they position themselves. What unique angles of approach are they taking to the same topic? This can help you identify uncovered gaps and get ideas for differentiating your marketing efforts.

4. Analyze industry trends: Pay a lot of attention to what is happening in your industry and how it is changing. Read up on the latest trends, particularly about how technology is changing your industry’s contours. This can help you identify potential marketing opportunities early on in the curve.

5. Look for underserved or underrepresented markets: Are particular groups or segments of the population not adequately served by existing businesses? You will generally hear complaints on social media. This could be an opportunity to fill a gaping hole in the market and reach a specific remote audience segment.

6. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism: Your readers may have different perspectives or experiences than you do and may write or post socially to tell you so. It’s important to be open to hearing their feedback. This can help you to better understand different perspectives and improve the quality of your writing.

A great example of how a brand found a niche in a market gap ...

In 2015, a couple of entrepreneurs, Ben Simon and Ben Chesler, discovered the incredible wastage of perfectly tasty vegetables and fruits that supermarkets wouldn’t take because they were “imperfect” – and therefore too ugly for their shelves. Imperfect Foods was born into a niche where shapely, good-looking produce alone survived and thrived. But when the two entrepreneurs started urging customers to buy“ugly food,” not only for discounted prices but as a movement against waste, the niche won its day …

Watch this video from Imperfect Foods, which sells its mission and produce as part of its niche!

2. Get into smart micro marketing within your niche

What is micro marketing? It calls for intensive focus on small groups of target audiences. You then can build several nuanced products that serve small groups.

How does micro marketing help you grow faster? In micro marketing, you address small groups of people and get to know their pain points in depth. Your brand authority gets very concentrated on their needs.

Your words resonate with these small audiences better. You relate to audiences at an emotional and empathetic level. Your audiences instinctively begin to feel that you know them and their issues very well. They enjoy the “customer experience.”

They feel as if you are writing for them, almost on a one-to-one basis. Trust bonds develop faster when people feel “understood.” As trust builds, so do sales.

6 tips to segment your micro marketing audiences logically ...

1. Define your overall target audience first: Identify the characteristics and behaviors that define your overall target audience. This is important because it will help you understand the context in which you will segment your audience. Get this wrong, and micro-segmentation will be meaningless.

2. Identify all the key factors that influence your audience’s behavior: Consider factors such as demographics, interests, values, and needs that may influence your audience’s behavior. This could include age, gender, income level, location, purchase history, or preferences for certain sellers or brands. 

3. Collect data on your audience: Use primary research tools that help you conduct surveys, focus groups, one-to-one interviews, or quizzes. Secondary sources of data could be published research statistics or trend charts. All this will help you understand audience characteristics and behaviors accurately. 

4. Analyze the data: Use your collected data to identify patterns and trends within your audience. This will help you understand the common characteristics and behaviors of different segments within your audience and break up your audience into smaller subgroups.

5. Define your segments: Based on the patterns and trends you have identified, define the different segments within your audience. Give each segment a specific name reflecting its characteristics and behaviors. Develop detailed segment profiles with information on needs, interests, and motivations.

6. Develop targeted marketing strategies: Test and refine your segments, and then use the insights you have gained to develop targeted marketing strategies that speak to each segment’s specific needs and interests. This will help you create more effective marketing campaigns and drive better results.

A great example of how a brand grew big by micro marketing ...

Shea Moisture is a hair care company that began by offering sulfate-free and silicone-free products to a small segment of African men and women who wanted to keep their curly hair. Focusing on this demographic, the company ruled out straight-haired people using their products. Shea Moisture is often considered the grandmother of the curly hair movement. (Much later, when their brand name caught on, they started widening their audiences.)

See below … there’s still a page on their website dedicated to the “Curly Girl Glossary” with hundreds of terms and techniques for curly-haired Africans to know.

Shea Moisture Micromarketing

3. Gather social proof to burnish your "brand aura"

Edward Thorndike, the psychologist, wrote about the “halo effect.” He suggested, “We often make judgments based on our overall impression of someone we think wears a halo of authority.” That’s why we believe anything that experts endorse must be great because they are more knowledgeable than us in their area of specialization.

We think we buy a quality product just because a quality celebrity endorses it. We trust “user reviews” as we believe they have experienced a product or service, unlike we, who have not.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that if our brands are vouched for by experts, celebrities, online authorities, or users, they acquire part of the halo of brand authority.

Other forms of social proof that further add to the halo effect of a brand is the wisdom of the crowds, the wisdom of your friends and family, and certifications. Is it surprising how much brand authority is earned over social media these days?

6 tips to use content marketing to increase brand aura ...

1. Establish a professional website: A well-designed and professionally presented website can go a long way in establishing credibility for your brand. Make sure the website is easy to navigate, has clear and accurate information about your products or services, and features customer reviews or testimonials.

2. Use social media effectively: Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and Instagram blogging can be powerful tools for building credibility for your brand. Use these platforms to engage with your customers, share valuable content, and respond promptly to any questions or concerns.

3. Focus on customer service: Providing excellent customer service is essential for building credibility for your brand. Make sure you have a process in place for addressing customer complaints and concerns, and go above and beyond to resolve any issues in a timely and satisfactory manner.

4. Use high-quality imagery: Visual elements like photographs, graphics, and videos can be powerful tools for establishing credibility for your brand. Make sure to use high-quality images that accurately represent your products or services, and avoid using low-quality or misleading imagery.

5. Showcase your expertise: Share your knowledge and expertise with your audience through business-related blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, and other educational content. This will help demonstrate your authority in your field and build credibility for your brand.

6. Build partnerships and collaborations: Partnering with reputable companies or organizations can help to boost your credibility. Look for opportunities to collaborate with complementary brands, or consider joining professional associations or trade organizations related to your industry.

A great example of a brand that got itself double the aura ...

If you haven’t heard of the fitness guy Drew Manning, you absolutely must. He went to extraordinary lengths to show people he knew fitness inside out. On his site Fit2Fat2Fit, he went from his lean, mean self to an obese, flabby self to show he knows what causes weight gain … and then he worked himself back to 8-pack abs! That’s an incredible demo of absolute authority!

Watch this video where he shows us his whole trip from fit to fat … and back from fat to fit!

4. Find and express your authentic, consistent brand voice

Most small businesses aren’t clear about what “brand voice” means or how to cultivate a distinctive one. The secret here is that you do not need an artificially-created brand voice if your brand is authentic in all its content marketing to its target audiences.

Every business owner is distinctive in a natural way, and the brand created by such an owner would naturally reflect the owner’s voice the most in any small business.

It would help if you watched over all your various types of communication pieces. Do they all sound like a coherent harmony – where they are from the same brand?

Or do they sound like a cacophony of different people from your marketing team saying what comes to mind about the brand? Brand authority comes from being “on brand” in whatever you or your team says or does.

6 tips to develop your own unique and true brand voice ...

1. Determine your brand’s personality: The first step in creating a unique brand voice is to define your brand’s personality. Consider the values and beliefs that your brand represents, and think about how you want your brand to be perceived by your audience. This will help you determine the tone, style, and language that you should use in your messaging.

2. Know your audience: Understanding your target audience is essential for creating a brand voice that resonates with them. Consider your audience’s demographics, interests, and values, and tailor your messaging to appeal to them. People see those who speak like them as belonging to their ilk.

3. Stay consistent: Once you’ve established your brand voice, it’s important to maintain consistency in your messaging. This means using the same tone, language, and style across all your marketing channels, including your website, social media, emails, and other forms of communication.

4. Be authentic: Authenticity is key to building trust and connection with your audience. Make sure your brand voice is genuine and reflects the values and beliefs of your brand. To make an impression, don’t try to be someone you are not and sound fake. You will instantly lose audience interest.

5. Use storytelling: Storytelling is a powerful tool for engaging your audience and creating an emotional connection. Consider incorporating storytelling into your marketing efforts, using anecdotes and examples to illustrate your message and bring your brand to life. It makes your brand voice endearing.

6. Keep it simple: It’s important to be clear and concise in your messaging, using language that is easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or too sophisticated industry-specific terms that may be unfamiliar to your audience. If you must use technical terms, explain these with simple vocabulary for lay readers.

A great example of how famous brand voices have been created ...

Arek Dvornechcuck is a brand voice expert. If you look past his eye-catching beard, you’ll see he knows brand voice like the back of his hand. He knows how famous brand voices were created, and he’ll also show you how to create your own brand’s unique voice …

See the video below … it’s a full tutorial on brand voice – and how not to make it sound forced but to make it look like a natural expression of your brand.

To find a special gift waiting for you on this page, click the button below to take a peek, before you read on … 

5. Stand for an opinion that's clear (and deliver on your word)

People don’t like other people who are wishy-washy in their opinions. People learn to respect those who are forthright and straightforward regarding their positions on various issues.

That doesn’t mean you cannot change your opinion should the future take us all on a different track from the one we are on now.

To stand for something is to be always on the side of a fact or truth you know it to be so at the time you speak of it. And, always be true to your word if you give it. If you should need to change your mind, explain to people what inflection point changed your opinion.

At all times, we all evolve – and so do our thoughts. If you or your brand leads others with your valuable analyses and points of view ahead of the market – and only changes courses with absolute clarity on why you did so – you’d always be a respected brand.

6 tips to take a clear stand without any aggressiveness...

1. Use clear and concise language: When expressing your opinions in any brand communication, it’s important to be clear and concise in your language. This can help ensure that your readers understand your message and reduce the risk of misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

2. Stay focused on the topic: It’s easy to get sidetracked or become too emotional when discussing a topic you feel strongly about. To take a clear stand, it’s essential to stay focused on the topic at hand and avoid veering off into unrelated or tangential issues. Saying less is often better than saying more.

3. Use evidence to support your points: When making a point or expressing an opinion, it’s important to back up your arguments with evidence. This could include research, statistics, or examples from your own experiences. Using evidence helps to make your arguments more credible and convincing.

4. Avoid personal attacks or inflammatory language: When expressing your opinions, try to do so without attacking or belittling others. Bringing down others to reinforce your belief is a ploy audiences will see through. Aim to be strong in your point of view, but create a more respectful and civil discourse.

5. Engage with opposing viewpoints: It’s important to consider and acknowledge different perspectives, even if you disagree with them. This shows you are open to dialogue and willing to listen to others. So remember to make your point while alluding to counterpoints that may have their value.

6. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism: Your readers may have different perspectives or experiences than you do. It’s important to be open to hearing their feedback and considering their points of view. This can help you to understand different perspectives better and improve the quality of your writing.

A great example of a brand that takes a firm stand ...

If you’ve seen the Dove soap brand communications, it’s simple, firm, and empathetic to audiences worldwide. The brand hasn’t compromised on its ideals in years. In its own words, “Appearance hate and discrimination caused by toxic beauty standards is a public health crisis that is costing young people their health, happiness, and even their lives. Hear their personal stories and learn why we need to end appearance hate together.”

The brand communication of Dove, despite being so unyielding, is never abrasive. It’s highly educational.

Dove took a stand on real beauty

6. Offer problem-solving helpful content on blog posts and emails

Nothing brands you as an authority like answering potential customers’ questions and helping solve their pain points. Many marketers like to keep busy doing various other sides of their business, including some fancy “customer service.” Still, if there’s one thing to always make time for, it is to be available to help people simply.

You know how hard it is to sell yourself to others. Why would you not want to help those who reach out to you on their own? Never stint on the quality of helpful problem-solving marketing content you can give others because that is what magnetizes people to you. Do it through your blog, chats, simple emails to those who contact you, and newsletters.

In my early career days, I remember reaching out to many A-listers with small SEO doubts I had. When I had problems finding answers to queries via search engines, I always approached biggies in the business via short unfussy emails without hesitation. But some never had the time to help.

The ones that did made a massive difference to me. I had so much trust in their “one-line email help” that I went on to buy many of their more extensive courses, products, and consultation offers. That’s when I realized brand authority needn’t be a big word with a significant impact. It can be a simple one-line sentence that helps point someone struggling in the right direction – and earn their gratitude and trust.

6 tips to increase the perception of your brand's helpfulness ...

1. Make sure your brand is easily accessible to your customers: This can be achieved through a robust online presence, including a website and social media accounts, as well as through traditional channels such as a customer service hotline. A brand, in this digital age, must be seen to be available 24 x 7.

2. Anticipate customer needs: Try to anticipate your customers’ needs and offer assistance proactively. This can include providing helpful information or resources, offering support for common issues, or suggesting solutions to problems. Use a chatbot to handle customers’ queries right on your site.

3. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and complaints: This shows that you value your customers and are willing to address any issues they may have. If your brand requires, put a customer-response team – a small one – in place. Train your team to give prompt solutions, even if they are not the best ones. 

4. Offer clear and accurate information about your products and services: This includes product descriptions, pricing, and any relevant terms and conditions. You’d be surprised how many brand marketers fail to offer a FAQ page or section on their sites that could help customers with various queries or problems.

5. Be empathetic and considerate: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try understanding their perspectives. This will help you better address their needs and concerns. Some customers need more help than others … so you need more patience before they may be satisfied with your answers or responses.

6. Continuously improve: Regularly solicit customer feedback and use it to improve your products, services, and customer support. This will show that you value their input and are committed to providing the best possible experience. There is no end to learning the nuances of customer management.

A great example of a brand's small but valuable helpfulness ...

Who hasn’t heard of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat? When Adobe Care had an outage due to an issue with Amazon Web Services, they posted a tweet about it before they started getting customer complaints. The tweet contained a video of a puppy stampede as a distraction and lightened the mood. 

Of course, there were some comments asking when the program would be running again, but many replies focused on the adorable puppies … and the “issue” was converted into an opportunity for a warm touch from the brand to its customers.

7. Collaborate with brands and influencers that build your authority

As we head into the rest of this year and the next one, the collaboration will be critical. Technology – and the pandemic – have changed and will continue changing everything about our lives, including how we work and what we do.

As we all become islands of WFH (Work From Home) professionals, we will need a supportive network of various other industry experts to help us get known and respected faster.

Your brand reputation gets a good rub-off from the kind of company you keep. If you keep looking out for joint ventures, partnerships, influencers, and co-petitors (friendly competitors) who can take your brand forward, you’ll scale your business faster than you would otherwise.

Piggy-backing on others who are further ahead than you are through a win-win collaboration is a great way to earn and learn from the success tricks they’ve used to build their brand authority.

6 tips to collaborate with other brands through joint ventures ...

1. Identify complementary brands: Look for brands that offer products or services that complement your own and are not competitors. This can help increase the joint venture’s value for both parties. In collaborations, the idea has to be for both parties to gain more than the sum of their parts.

2. Define the terms of the collaboration: Clearly define the limits of the collaboration, including any financial arrangements and the roles and responsibilities of each party. Don’t let initial euphoria make you forget or bypass the legalese. Get lawyers from both sides to hammer out the details.

3. Communicate effectively: Establish clear lines of communication with the other brand to ensure everyone is on the same page and the collaboration runs smoothly. First, each side must know why it has entered the partnership and what it wants to gain. Next, agree on mutually acceptable clear red lines.

4. Set measurable goals: You can’t let a valuable partnership fizzle out because of vague performance judgments. Having determined what you hope to achieve through the joint venture, set specific, measurable goals to help gauge collaboration success. Periodically analyze to see if you’re on track and in sync.

5. Be flexible: Be open to adjusting the terms of the collaboration as needed, as long as it’s mutually beneficial. You can never be too rigid in business … growth is part of the process. With every small or sizeable evolutionary phase, partners must be ready to re-tune their working relationship.

6. Follow through on your commitments: It’s important to follow through on any commitments made as part of the collaboration to build trust and maintain a positive working relationship. You just have to be as good as your word because the whole edifice of a partnership is built on mutual trust.

A great example of an unexpected but highly successful brand collaboration ...

When two luxury brands collaborate, you can expect something beyond the extraordinary, right? That’s what happened when BMW introduced a hybrid BMW i8 car into the luxury market. Louis Vuitton, already a well-known brand in the luxury handcrafted leather bags sector, joined in – and created the luggage to fit the BMW i8’s extravagant luggage space.

Try out the slide show below to see how well the brands complemented each other and how they together transported buyers into an out-of-this-world lifestyle!

8. Be an active participant in your industry events and community

Small brands need all the authority they can get, and the one smart way to get it is by volunteering to officiate on the apex bodies of your industryIt always surprised me that some people seemed to have all the time in the world to manage their businesses and still be on various committees in diverse industry lobbies.

That was till I saw how far you could go with all the networking you can do with industry leaders and innovative startup entrepreneurs you get to know.

Suddenly you have a reason to stay in touch with loads of important people, all of whom you can write to in your capacity as an office-bearer, without offending them with business offers. You can be seen by the best and the biggest in your industry as a go-to person of value to them.

Through the “good offices” of the body you work for, even your business competitors can become your cheerleaders. What more social proof would you need than to be an office-bearer on an industry-action board?

6 tips to get involved in industry communities and stand out...

1. Identify the key industry communities relevant to your interests and goals: These could include professional associations, online forums, and networking groups. Look for active communities with a strong presence within your industry. Look especially within the geographies you are in or visit often.

2. Engage with the community: Once you’ve identified the key industry communities, start participating in discussions and contributing valuable insights and expertise. Be active and consistent in your engagement, and look for opportunities to help others and offer value to the community.

3. Be genuine and authentic: It’s important to be authentic and genuine when participating in industry communities. Don’t try to be someone you’re not or present yourself in a way that isn’t true to who you are. There is an intrinsic power and uniqueness in being your true self which is your strongest suit.

4. Add value in as many ways as possible: Look for opportunities to add value to the community by sharing your knowledge, expertise, and resources. This could involve answering questions, sharing articles or blog posts, or offering suggestions or recommendations. Quick help is better than big help.

5. Network and build relationships: Industry communities and events are great places to network and build relationships with other professionals in your field. Take the time to get to know people and develop genuine connections with them. Go beyond an exchange of business cards and aim to acquire friendships.

6. Stay current and up-to-date: To stand out in industry communities, staying current and up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in your field is important. This could involve reading industry publications, attending conferences and events, and participating in ongoing education and training opportunities. You could be the one that others want to be around.

A great example of how to make networking work for you ...

Many excellent YouTube videos teach you how to network successfully to grow your brand and business, but my favorite is this tutorial for beginners from Hotspot. I must admit that a big part of me is an introvert, and I find it hard to make new connections easily – but once I get started, I can get on famously …

Watch this Hubspot video every time you have to attend a community event, so you can remember all the tactics taught here!

Pro tips to take away in summary ...

1. The more you build on your brand authority persistently, and in many ways, the more every other form of 360° business success will automatically follow.

2. What can having strong brand authority do for your SME business? There are at least 8 priceless benefits to begin with. Exploit them.

3. Feel free to use my list of 8 eminently do-able steps to build your brand authority. It’s a battle-tested plan I have used to grow my entrepreneurial venture that hit high places quickly.

Learn to be ever-conscious of the need to build brand authority and even learn to measure it regularly. It’s about the only goal – the overarching marketing strategy – your SME brand ever needs to have, now and for always. It gets you everything else your brand may wish for faster than you’d expect.

BONUS: How to get help with building your brand authority

Brand authority building is the only goal you need to have. It can quicken your brand’s growth if done correctly. You can blog for many reasons – to achieve many aims – but blogging to build brand authority has its own process. Rather than slog at it yourself and spend time and money on trial-and-error, make it simple … let me help you.
 
Let’s have a free, no-obligations Zoom chat. We can locate the potential to power up your brand authority. Let me know your goals and budgets, and I will offer you some readily implementable suggestions. 
 
If we’re a good fit for each other, you could consider outsourcing your brand authority building to me. I am confident I can take your business to an enviable position. 
 
Click the button below to book a free 30-45 minute online ZOOM meeting, and we’ll take it from there!
Shobha Ponnappa

"Any brand blog isn’t about your brand. It should be about your target audience's needs and challenges. If you offer know-how to your audiences with blog posts that help them solve problems and maximize opportunities, they will reward you by bonding deeply with your brand."

More posts on the nuances of brand leadership ...

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