Building Brand Authority: Four Key Strategies

Wednesday, May 01st
Content Manager

Mark Wilson

Brand Authority…it’s one of those holy grails that businesses think they want, but struggle to define.

Meanwhile, marketing agencies will promise brand authority but often seem sparse on the details of how they’ll deliver. Or they’ll conflate brand authority with your website’s domain authority score.

Here at Leadflask, we’ve helped numerous clients grow their brand presence. The only common feature of all of them is that we figured out what brand authority meant for that client in their specific industry, then executed strategies to pursue those ends.

This is good news, because it means that anyone selling you a “cookie cutter” brand solution is doing your brand a disservice. If they’re not getting to know what separates you from your competitors, any strategies you pursue won’t be as effective as they could be.

That said, there are broad types of strategies that will work for most (or all!) brands looking to grow their industry presence. Below we’ve listed the most prominent that we’ve discovered.

What the Heck Is Brand Authority Anyway?

Marketing buzzwords can be annoying, because it’s often unclear what a term specifically relates to. So let’s disambiguate brand authority.

At the first sub-level, we like to think of brand authority as the amount of awareness and earned trust you have within your industry and among your existing audience. If you sell artisan soda, are you the first name people think of when they want something better than Pepsi and Coke? Would they recommend your brand to their friends?

These are the types of qualities that create brand authority. The brands with the highest authority are household names, and they have mega-fans who are devoted to using products or services from that brand (think about Apple mega-fans, for instance).

We also mentioned Domain Authority briefly above, which relates to how search engines perceive the trustworthiness of your website. While having a strong domain authority can contribute to overarching brand authority, it’s a separate metric. Brand authority is more about holistic perception in your market, whereas domain authority is an aggregate of various technical indicators that signify website strength.

Tracking Brand Authority

Beyond that, you should be able to track these things. How? Well, that’s where it’s important to dig into exactly what your audience thinks about you.

Have you ever been asked - on a scale of 1-10 - whether or not you’d recommend a company to someone else? This is a company gathering data on the trust and authority it has among existing customers. If that number is too low, they’re failing in the customer experience, and might want to use negative feedback from those surveys to improve their processes.

Awareness studies can be conducted as well, using in-person or online polling among a particular demographic. For example, if I asked you to name burger restaurants in your area, you’d be able to name a certain number. This is a high level of brand awareness.

But then if I provided you with a list of burger restaurants, you’d be able to identify some that you couldn’t recall without the aid of the list. This is a lesser form of brand awareness, and suggests that more could be done to create that sort of recall in customers.

Lastly, various digital metrics such as web traffic, downloads of various resources, speaking engagements, social shares and more can all suggest high levels of brand authority. “Thought leadership” is a related concept used in some industries, signifying that a company is the leading authority on a particular subject.

#1 - Variety and Quality of Content

In the age of AI-generated content, simply producing content is easy, quick and cheap. But does “easy, quick and cheap” leave you with a warm feeling when you think about a company?

Simply producing content for its own sake can seem lazy at worst, and will be ineffective and forgettable at best. So you need a clear plan or you risk simply wasting your effort.

However, you are an expert in at least one subject: whatever your business does. Which means you can produce high-quality, funny, exciting, interesting and/or informative content on your brand and its products or services.

What should that content look like? Whatever format does the best job of delivering your message. This could include:

  • Short-form videos
  • Long-form videos
  • Podcasts
  • Educational blog articles
  • Infographics
  • Engaging social media posts
  • Emails 
  • App-based activities or offers
  • DIY and How-To guides

Even that list isn’t comprehensive. But it should get your creative juices flowing.

Some of the internet’s most successful brands aren’t even releasing much content. What they do release, though, is incredibly informative, interesting and engaging.

“Quality over quantity” gets at that idea succinctly. Both quantity and quality can be great too, but you aren’t falling behind so long as you can create engaging content for your audience. Long-term, this increases brand awareness, trust, and encourages others to share your content for additional brand efforts that require no extra work.

#2 - Authenticity in Brand Voice and Products or Services

I saw a great piece of social media marketing advice recently, and it translates well to the entirety of your brand presence. It went something like this:

“You’ll never create engagement online as long as you’re creating posts to please your company’s leadership instead of your audience.”

Similar advice makes the rounds in media circles frequently, because it’s always relevant.

Wendy’s has a somewhat famous X/Twitter account that’s acerbic and flippant to other users. This doesn’t look like the traditional way to represent a business, but people love it because it’s not trying to be hyper-professional and respectful. It’s a joke at the expense of a lot of brand accounts that feel inauthentic.

You don’t have to adopt Wendy’s somewhat insulting persona, but keeping things real can reap rewards.

This might mean showing vulnerability as a company when there are struggles, or being honest with customers about when your product or service isn’t the best fit. Or letting your social media manager blow off some corporate steam in ways that poke fun at online trends in your industry.

This is still consistent with being professional. It’s also consistent with showing why your brand remains the best fit for certain people and can bring value to their lives. It simply means treating people as more than data points and understanding that they’re probably not online to read lawyer-approved corporate copy, but rather to explore topics they’re interested in and engage with others in interesting, fun ways.

#3 - Go to Where Your Audience Is

Do you know your audience? How well?

I’d argue that a lot of brands think they understand their audience, but don’t have great ways to corroborate those suspicions. A deep dive on creating actionable user personas is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but is the first step in connecting with your ideal customers in consistent ways.

The next step beyond this, though, and the one that will enable businesses to create brand authority, is meeting their audience where they’re at.

What does this mean, exactly? On the one hand, it means exactly what it says: make sure your brand is everywhere your audience is. On a deeper level, though, research and analysis can be required to determine where the best places are to share your brand.

Your budget isn’t unlimited. Should you sponsor that halftime show of the local sports team? Or hire a social media manager to make sure you have daily Instagram reels covering core products and services? Or one of 100 other venues, both physical and digital, that could occupy your resources, efforts and budget?

The answer lies in knowing your audience, and parsing branding opportunities to determine where the greatest value is.

This will be different for different companies. Average age, income, geographic location and more of your core demographic will affect the channels you’ll want to prioritize.

For local businesses, for instance, a nearby presence can be key. Some may even want to consider sponsoring small events like high school sports or neighborhood farmers’ markets.

For national brands, your channels are more likely to be digital, since you can more easily cast a wider net with these branding opportunities.

There’s a lot of money to be wasted in this space. But also a lot of opportunity when you choose your branding spot carefully. Collectively, it can increase your authority through repetition and relevance to those who are seeing your brand.

#4 - Stay Engaged to be Engaging

Probably the most frequent marketing sin that companies commit when they are active online is that they only talk about themselves.

Consider this scenario, and how appealing it sounds on paper: you schedule out announcements, news, articles, videos and other media stretching out for months. Much of it coincides with company initiatives or campaigns, so that the branding and messaging is coordinated between channels. And you can let your automated messaging do its thing for months, knowing that it’s working to help build your brand while you focus on other areas.

Not bad, right? Well, sort of.

While regularly utilizing your content in cross functional ways like social media and email can be extremely useful, there’s something missing from that description: actual engagement with customers.

People aren’t online to be talked at, nor do they sit there passively until you release a news release, then gobble it up with glee.

Show me a social feed, for example, that merely reposts blogs from a company’s website, and I’ll show you a social feed with no meaningful engagement and very little business development via that channel.

Social media is low-hanging fruit in this regard, but the principle holds true regardless of the types of marketing that can be most effective for you.

Make no mistake: genuine engagement is hard work and can be extremely difficult. This is why savvy organizations with the proper resources have someone whose entire job is engaging customers in authentic ways, either in-person or through traditional or digital marketing channels.

If you think of these channels as “set it and forget it” models, you’ll never unlock their potential, and if you never leave your comfort zone to engage with your audience, you’ll struggle to resonate with them.

Building Brand Awareness: A Comprehensive Approach

So how do you build brand authority for your brand? You tell me.

No, seriously, by now you should be able to form a coherent plan that’s better than when you started this article.

The reason I can’t answer it for you is because advice like “know your audience” requires you to discover what your unique audience is. Creating relevant and exciting content requires you to understand what excites people about your brand the most, then using storytelling techniques to bring those qualities to life.

The principles are known. The details vary, because they’re unique to you and your specific goals for growing and maintaining brand authority.

Now that you have the tools and strategies, though, you can begin brainstorming ways to grow your brand’s authority in ways that will maintain the ideals and values your brand represents.


Want to become an authoritative brand in your industry even faster? Let’s talk.

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