It is no doubt brand credibility is the bread and butter of how to truly stand out in our shared digital space. Take a look at the brands you love, what stands out to you about them the most? What attracts you to a brand in the first place?
In this post, I am breaking it all down on the major factors are that contribute to brand credibility. Note: you will notice I will use the words “brand credibility”, “brand equity”, “brand loyalty”, and “brand reputation” interchangeably in this post, but they all fall under the umbrella of “brand credibility”.
What is brand credibility
Brand credibility, in a nutshell, is the trustworthiness of a brand. According to the Association for Consumer Research website, it is defined as:
…the believability of the product information contained in a brand, which requires that consumers perceive that the brand have the ability (i.e., expertise) and willingness (i.e., trustworthiness) to continuously deliver what has been promised.
Take a moment to think about some of your favorite brands and answer these questions:
How do you feel when you think about this brand?
What are some experiences you recall based on the interactions you have had with the brand in the past?
Why do you think you are attracted to this brand?
Brand credibility vs. brand identity
So you might be wondering, wait, so what’s the difference between “brand identity” and “brand credibility”? The truth is both of these concepts go hand-in-hand with each other. In fact, brand credibility actually falls within brand identity.
A brand identity is the overall visual presentation of your brand, the majority of which comprises of the look and feel, such as your logo, colors, imagery, etc. The goal of the brand identity is that it accurately portrays the type of emotions, feelings, and visions you want to elicit to your target audience when they think about you.
On the other hand, brand credibility plays into those emotions and feelings that your target audiences associate with, and are part of how they think about your brand holistically. It plays a vital role in the trust people have towards your brand and is correlated with the likelihood of them purchasing your products or services, sharing them with friends and family, and returning in the future.
What contributes to brand credibility?
There are many pieces involved when it comes to building a strong brand credibility. Unfortunately, it is not just something you can simply just do-it-and-forget-it in hopes that everyone will instantly trust you. There is a level of discipline and integrity involved in being able to continuously execute to your core brand standards in everything you do. It is not an easy feat, and sometimes, it may even require making hard decisions in order to maintain your brand integrity.
With this in mind, let’s explore some of these moving pieces together.
Your brand mission
At the most basic level, what are the expectations you have set for your brand that can absolutely not be broken?
One of my first jobs, while I was still a student, was working as a barista at Starbucks. As part of the onboarding for new joiners, one of the first reading materials they asked me to read was their training booklet on their company’s culture, practice, and customer service expectations. At that time, I also had a second job at a fast-food chain that barely trained us on customer service and was instead, more focused on training us how to upsell. I remember being overwhelmed with how serious Starbucks was in ensuring all employees acknowledged and practiced the guidelines laid out in the training booklet. They really went above and beyond in ensuring their employees understood their core brand values and never hesitated in investing in training to ensure all employees are on the same page.
To this day, I still remember those guidelines clear as day, and I continue to see them being practiced by the people who work there. It has since grown into a company that is 5,500 coffeehouses strong and growing every day still (and yup – I am still a loyal fan today as ever)! …On the other hand, that fast-food chain I once worked for? They have been closing more shops year-over-year, I guess all the upsells didn’t work out in the long run after all.
The lesson? Invest in defining a set of brand guidelines for your business and brand. These are rules you vow to never break over the lifetime of your brand. A good set of guidelines will empower you to stay on course when new ideas or unexpected considerations come into play. They will also be fundamental in ensuring you deliver consistency in all aspects of the business.
Your brand aethestic
When I say aesthetic, I am not just referring to your logo, your brand colors, or those pretty florals and curls. Your brand aesthetic is how you present your brand’s look and feel consistently across all touchpoints while embodying your brand’s core values and goals.
The key here is the emotion that people feel when they look at your brand, what kind of vibe does it give off? Casper, a company that manufactures mattresses, does this very well. From their brand colors to their cute illustrations, everything just screams cozy and comfort. (I mean, #mood anyone?)
Linjer is another brand that aims at creating timeless, sustainable goods made from natural ingredients. Their Instagram imageries are a reflection of that brand promise by using a mix of classy, minimalistic, and natural photos.
Your brand marketing
One of my favorite brands, Wealthsimple, an investing management firm based in Toronto, is both visually appealing and thoughtfully engaging. The way they position their brand is that they are a service that helps clients avoid the stress and risk that comes with traditional investing, and offers a solution by uncomplicating the process and keeping investments simple and at a level the client is comfortable with.
In some of their ad campaigns that they ran last year and this year, in addition to the 60-second video they released on how their platform works. The message across the board was that it’s easy and affortable to invest, and they deliver on that promise with their intuitive and just as simple platform.
Your brand marketing is everything your market out there to your audiences. It is the way you sell, the way you portray your products, AND, the way you fulfill the promise of your product when it gets to the consumer’s hands. What I refer to as product here can be a physical product, a digital product, a service, or simply the content you share on a daily basis.
Now, I emphasized on the DELIVERY aspect of marketing, because at the end of the day, you can promise your customers the moon just so you can entice them to buy, but if you cannot deliver the moon to them in the end, your brand reputation is going to take a huge hit. Which brings me to my next point…
Your brand experiences
Your brand experiences are the emotional, physical, and psychological aspects of how your audience feel towards your brand. It is typically highlighted via touchpoints. What are touchpoints? Touchpoints are the various mediums audiences experience your brand through. They can be as traditional as a store flyer, a website, or an ad in the local classified. They can also be interactions such as the way you or your employees handles tough situations, how you answer the phone or email, etc.
When you have nailed down your brand purpose and mission, your brand experiences would simply be an extension of how your brand is portrayed as a whole. Your audiences will be able to tell inconsistent brands apart from consistent brands, even if it’s the most subtle difference that they notice.
The brand credibility cycle
Building a strong brand credibility is a consistent cycle that repeats throughout the lifetime of your brand.
- Consumer expectations
- Marketing promises
- Flawless delivery
A strong brand credibility is reflected in ALL aspects of your business.
So, now that you have learned a bit about what builds brand credibility, were there any that surprised you? What are some of the things you want to do better are? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!