How to Establish Brand Trust and Authority
A brand is more than just a logo or a name. It's the reputation that a company or product has built up over time. Brand authority is the degree to which consumers trust and respect a brand. In general, when your target audience sees you as an expert, they're more likely to trust you, buy from you, and continue doing business with you. In this article, we’ll review X ways to build brand authority.
- Provide high quality services consistently
- Showcase 3rd party proof, ambassadorships, and awards
- Consistent branding and quality of images
- Build and showcase quality relationships
- Create educational/authoritative content
Provide high quality services consistently
The first point is obvious but critical, so we’ll just spend a little bit of time on it. The prerequisite for any good branding for photographers is to provide high-quality products and services that meet and exceed customer needs and expectations. When this happens, word spreads among client networks, business partners and related vendors. When it doesn’t the brand quickly suffers.
Consistent branding and quality of images
The next step in branding for photographers is maintaining consistency in your branding and in the quality of images.
Consistent Messaging - For premium members who watched our Photography Business Training System videos, you might recall our videos on identifying your core values and creating your mission statement. The process is beyond the scope of this article, but here are a few tips from the section of our workshop.
- Answer your “Why,” i.e. why your business exists and what drives you to do what you do.
- Research your competition to better understand your strengths and weaknesses relative to your competitors.
- Mindmap and brainstorm all the core values of your business. These are your most important beliefs.
- Based on the information you’ve brainstormed, come up with a short, one-sentence mission statement, a list of core values, and your “story.”
Communicating these core values and your mission statement across all of your platforms, from your website to your emails to your social media, reinforces your message and helps the clients understand your story, your vision and your brand.
Consistent Imagery - As we consistently remind you, our community, be sure to consistently cull your portfolio and trim out the images that are outdated or do not represent your best work. It only takes a series of bad, outdated, cheesy, or off brand images for a potential client to start doubting your ability to deliver and to potentially turn them off to your brand.
Showcase 3rd party proof, ambassadorships, and awards
The next step in branding for photographers is to showcase 3rd party proof, ambassadorships and/or awards that you’ve accumulated over the years. These include the following:
- Best of Lists - “Top 10” or “top 100” lists, Brides Choice, Etc
- Industry awards - Wedding Maps Awards, WPPI Awards, Fearless Awards, Etc
- Featured In - Respectable websites you’ve been featured in
- Ambassadorships for photo brands
Some of these recognitions are difficult to earn, rare and valuable, while others are easy to get and seemingly granted to anyone. However, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum, and regardless of how you personally feel these types of accolades, they are important to showcase on your website because they provide 3rd party verification for your brand.
Why? Because shopping for photography services is not a familiar, everyday situation for most individuals. So when it comes to making these important decisions with limited info and experience, consumers have to rely on whatever information is out there, including recommendations from trusted sources, public reviews and testimonials, and independent, 3rd party endorsements and accolades.
If a client is choosing between two photographers and having a difficult time making his or her decision, the 3rd party recognition might just tip the scale.
- Include a “featured in” section on the homepage of your website to showcase all of the logos for your features, awards, and other recognitions.
- Gain more recognition by joining directories (like our very own Wedding Maps).
- Research brands with ambassadorships and reach out to apply.
- Submit to more online magazines
Build and showcase quality relationships
There’s the old saying that goes something like “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are?” It's helpful to build relationships with industry leaders, influencers, and like-minded brands. When other people in your industry vouch for your brand, it can go a long way toward increasing consumer trust.
This is a big reason we emphasize the importance of creating preferred vendor and venue pages, since these public pages associate you with your choice of brands that match the same target audience as you. In addition, you may consider publicly endorsing your industry relationships on Linkedin, Weddingwire, Alignable and other websites that allow professionals to connect.
Create educational/authoritative content
The next way to build up your brand authority is to provide high quality authoritative content on topics that are pertinent to your target audience. The theory is to be a part of their journey, to anticipate and answer their questions, and to provide overall expert advice and guidance.
By creating and sharing high-quality content that educates and informs your target audience, you can position yourself as a trusted source of information. This is especially powerful when you can align this content with keywords that are searched by your target audience in Google because then it also serves as a lead generator. We cover this extensively in the Marketing section of our Business Workshop.
Our last tip for increasing your brand authority is to showcase testimonials from real clients. As mentioned, photography is not something that most have experience shopping for. This uncertainty makes things like accolades (as mentioned above) and testimonials even more important.
When selecting your testimonials, be sure to select clients, for the most part, that match up with your target audience in terms of overall demographics, budget and type of shoot. You want the potential client to identify with the client giving the testimonial.
Every business has a brand, whether they realize it or not. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors and tells customers what they can expect from your products or services. Brand authority is the degree to which your brand is trusted and respected by consumers. It takes time to build brand authority, but hopefully we’ve simplified the action steps for you.