Brands with strong, positive reputations tend to attract more sales and win more customer loyalty than their counterparts. Preserving a strong reputation isn’t especially hard – you just have to keep providing excellent products and services that your customers already expect.
But how do you build a strong brand reputation from scratch? How do you get off the ground with little to no momentum?
Start with consistent brand standards
One of your most important priorities will be starting with consistent brand standards. If you present your brand inconsistently across channels, it won’t matter how much you push your reputation; people won’t be able to connect the various iterations of your brand messaging to one another. They may not even recognize your brand as having a coherent identity.
Create brand guidelines that explain what this brand is, how it presents itself, and how it should come across in messaging. What are its key characteristics? How is it different than other brands? How can marketers craft messaging in alignment with this brand?
Appeal to a specific audience
In the early stages of building a brand reputation, it pays to appeal to a specific audience, rather than speaking to a broad, generic audience. This way, you’ll be able to write much more specific messaging with personal relevance to the people reading it. Additionally, focusing on one market segment means you’ll face less competition, so your messaging will be more visible. You can always expand by focusing on more target audiences later.
Focus on early customer loyalty
Customer loyalty strategies are extremely valuable for early brand reputation building. Reputations are best established by brand enthusiasts, even if they’re few in number; a sufficiently passionate brand enthusiast could become an evangelist, functioning as a kind of marketing ambassador as they refer more people to your brand. But the only way you’re going to get brand enthusiasts is by focusing on improving customer loyalty.
Offering excellent products and memorable experiences provides the foundation of your customer loyalty strategy, but you should also consider investing in a customer loyalty program that keeps people coming back for more.
Go above and beyond
Don’t just meet people’s expectations; exceed them. Going above and beyond the call of duty will form a powerful impression. When a customer has a problem, resolve it expediently and make up for it by throwing in a free extra or a significant discount in the future. When a customer is trying your brand for the first time, go out of your way to make that experience positive and memorable. Do this enough, and you’ll have hordes of people praising your brand.
Double down on content marketing and thought leadership
Thought leadership is all about becoming known as an innovator of ideas. In other words, you’ll be an industry leader by presenting new and imaginative perspectives. The best channel for this is content marketing, where you can create blog posts, eBooks, and whitepapers about matters that are relevant to your target audience or your industry (or both).
Getting recognition from customers and industry leaders alike will reliably propel your brand reputation to new heights. The only problem is that it sometimes takes time (i.e., months to years) to earn this level of respect.
Cultivate reviews and testimonials
Get more reviews and testimonials from customers. When people search for your brand for the first time, you want them to see hundreds, or even thousands of glowing reviews from people who have used your products and services in the past. Don’t be afraid to ask customers directly to leave you a review (as long as you comply with the terms and conditions of review sites).
Get industry recognition (if you can)
If possible, earn some industry recognition for your brand. Winning awards, being featured in publications, and winning the admiration of peers can all make your brand seem more authoritative and valuable.
Pay attention to feedback (and act on it)
When it comes to developing a brand reputation, customer feedback is indispensable. Ask your customers what they want to see from your brand in the future. Do they have ideas for how your brand can improve? Do they have concerns or complaints about any of your current products or services?
Take this feedback seriously and act on it; gradually tweaking your brand to cater to your customers’ preferences will both make your business stronger and prove that you take your customers’ ideas and desires seriously.
Building a brand reputation from scratch isn’t easy, and it’s not something you can do in a week. But there is a straightforward path you can take to gradually build your reputation, even if you’re starting with almost no visibility or public regard.