DTC 379: Build Credibility and Authority

🤔 Decisions, decisions…

Consumers are faced with dozens of purchasing decisions every day…

Which toothpaste is best for my pearly whites? What bed sheets will keep me cool and comfy through the night?

Most of us don’t have time to thoroughly research every product we buy. As a result, we look for mental “shortcuts” to help us make buying decisions, like relying on the opinions of authority figures.

This tendency to trust experts is a cognitive bias known as “authority bias.”

“9 out of 10 marketing experts recommend learning about authority bias.” 😂

Sometimes, it’s talked about in a negative light, referring to how we can irrationally and blindly trust any marketing by “experts.” 

However, just like any marketing tactic – when used ethically, honestly, and transparently – authority figures can create a positive experience for consumers by helping them make buying decisions more easily.

Here are three ways brands of all sizes can use authority bias to add credibility, increase sales, and build brand loyalty! 👇

1️⃣ Use your “expert founder”

Company founders can be some of the most believable authority figures to use in your marketing. Founders already believe in your products and can speak about your brand with unparalleled authenticity and expertise!

Big companies leverage their charismatic leaders in marketing all the time

  • Tesla and Elon Musk
  • Apple and Steve Jobs
  • Ryan Reynolds and Mint Mobile
  • Goop and Gwenyth Paltrow

But your company’s leader doesn’t have to be a celeb. Any influential founder can help take a brand to new heights with the right platform, strategy, and expertise. 👏

For example, Dave Asprey, creator of the DTC brand “Bulletproof Coffee,” served as the main face of Bulletproof for several years. Dave was able to help Bulletproof grow through his personal podcast, books, and social media following. 

Now, it’s a mainstream health brand.


If your company founder isn’t afraid of the limelight, positioning them as an “expert face” of your brand can effectively tap into authority bias and build credibility!

2️⃣ Recruit trusted brand representatives.

Another way to incorporate authority figures is by partnering with people your audience already knows, likes, and trusts.

For example:

  • Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt as an ambassador for Puma
  • Oprah as an avid user and rep for Weight Watchers
  • George Clooney as the face of Nespresso
  • Joe Rogan as a spokesperson for Onnit supplements

Now, we don’t all have the budget to recruit A-list celebs or athletes. Heck, that doesn’t always make the most effective marketing anyway!

Luckily, it can be just as effective to collaborate with industry experts, thought leaders, influencers, popular YouTubers, or any trusted authority figure in your field. 🤝

Gymshark is a great example. 

They’ve essentially crafted their entire brand around everyday fitness experts. 💪 

By utilizing a mix of micro- and macro-influencers in their marketing, they’ve built authority in the industry and a massive following (not to mention “unicorn status” 🦄 with a $B valuation).


You don’t have to use celebrities or big names. Simply having influential, trustworthy people represent your brand can build authority!

3️⃣ Create a fictional authority figure

Yep, you read that right. Your authority figure doesn’t even have to be real to be effective. 

There are dozens of examples of fictional brand reps:

  • Dos Equis and The Most Interesting Man in the World
  • Progressive Car Insurance and Flo
  • The National Parks Service and Smokey the Bear
  • The Old Spice Guy
  • The Geico Gecko
  • The Koolaid Man

OffLimits Cereal, for example, uses their fictional “band of mascots” to create fun, nostalgic, memorable marketing. And you better believe they’ve built a cult following because of it!

But wait… how could a made-up character possibly build authority? 😕

While not real “experts,” fictional authority figures can create a sense of familiarity and emotional connection with a brand, leading to more credibility with consumers. It may seem counterintuitive, but it can work!

So, if you’re looking for ways to generate more trust in your products, create positive associations, and build brand loyalty, try leaning into authority figures – whether they’re from your own company, influencers in your industry, or created from your imagination. ✏️

✨ TL;DR?

  • Authority bias is a cognitive bias that leads us to trust the opinions and recommendations of experts.
  • While it can be seen as a negative, it’s actually a helpful mental shortcut that allows consumers to make purchasing decisions more quickly and easily.
  • Marketers can tap into authority bias by:
  • Using an expert founder as the “face of the brand” (e.g., Tesla and Elon Musk)
  • Bringing in other trusted experts to rep’ the brand (e.g., Gymshark’s fitness influencer ambassadors)
  • Creating a fictional character or mascot (e.g., Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World)
  • When done ethically, honestly, and transparently, authority bias can add credibility, increase sales, and build brand loyalty.
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