It can take years to build a credible brand — and seconds to destroy it. A single action by your marketing team can send the wrong message and alienate your customer base. A bad report or a nightmarish user review can tank consumer trust in your organization.
From an untimely post to a sub-par production to straight-up neglect, here are several ways you can thoroughly destroy your credibility as a brand.
1. Failing to Focus on Your Target Audience
One of the quickest ways to undermine your company’s credibility is by ignoring the very people who are fueling that credibility in the first place. Remember what the term “credibility” means.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines credibility as “the fact that someone can be believed or trusted.” It’s your industry, peers, and above all, consumers that create this spirit of trust behind a brand. When a company fails to focus on its target audience, they neglect to cultivate that sense of credibility.
Bud Light’s recent attempt to work with a transgender spokesperson to market to a conservative customer base is a good example of undermining credibility by failing to focus on a brand’s target audience. The result of the debacle was a precipitous drop in both stock price and sales and a boycott of Bud Light products that, at last check, was dragging into the summer of 2023.
Enhancing Credibility by Focusing on Your Target Audience
Make sure to invest the time and effort required to keep your finger on the pulse of your target audience.
Conduct proactive market research. Pay attention to customer feedback and reviews. Ensure that you understand what your core audience expects over time and consider how you can meet those needs without stepping on any toes in the process.
2. Assuming Your Team Is the Best
Everyone wants to believe that they’ve built the best team. Whether it’s through your impeccable hiring standards, your encouraging work culture, or your inspiring leadership (or a combination of the three), you’ve assembled the ultimate posse of professionals.
Having an incredible team is great. By all means, continue to hone your internal team to make it the most efficient and functional group in your industry. However, don’t let your perspective of professional greatness blind you to your team’s limitations.
Where this can begin to subtly undermine your credibility is when you decide that your team can do anything internally. If you fail to lean on the expertise of others, it can lead to sub-par results, from a badly handled invoice to a dysfunctional website or cringy marketing ad. Consumers will pick up on those things, and it will erode their trust in your organization.
Preserving Credibility By Leaning on Third-Party Support
Instead, look for ways to complement your team’s strengths. For example, if you’re trying to improve your marketing, work with a fractional CMO to build a strategy. Then use drag-and-drop tools like Canva or MailChimp to keep things sleek yet simple.
If you’re trying to create a podcast, don’t build a show from scratch. Work with a freelancer to write professional scripts. Then, utilize tools like PodUP with pre-designed modules and clear systems to create, grow, and manage a corporate program.
Wherever your team’s limitations may be, don’t let your confidence allow those shortcomings to undermine your company’s credibility.
3. Under-Prioritizing Credibility in the First Place
Credibility is a bit of a vague term. It often gets confused with authority, even though that has to do with having influence. Remember, credibility is about fostering trust.
It’s easy for the concept of a company’s credibility to slip between the cracks. Even if you’re focused on your target audience and using the right third-party resources to run your business, your credibility can still come up short if it isn’t a priority across the board.
A failure to care about credibility could lead to leaving negative reviews unaddressed online. Your product development team might cut a corner to meet a deadline. You might lose track of your company’s mission statement and vision in favor of revenue and profitability. Once again, these are things that customers notice, and given time, they’ll destroy their trust in your brand.
Maintaining Credibility By Prioritizing It
If you want your brand to build and maintain the trust of your audience, you need to prioritize credibility — and not just as a vague core philosophy. You need to actively cultivate credibility in every area of your business.
When you create marketing strategies, use digital PR to build credibility as a brand. When you release a product, ensure that it is specifically and expertly answering customer pain points. Keep your customer service reps trained to be well-informed and helpful. Stay transparent with both internal and external communication. You get the idea.
Credibility: It’s Worth the Investment
As the owner of a startup, you may focus on things like building brand visibility and establishing your brand’s authority within your industry — and those are good priorities. But credibility must be on your short list of considerations, too.
As your company grows, you will develop trust with your customers. The last thing you want to do is undermine that trust through poor or even neglectful behaviors.
Stay focused on your target audience. Lean on external expertise when you need it. Above all, keep brand credibility at the center of your business activity at all times. This will enable you to build a fiercely loyal customer base. From there, the results will speak for themselves.