netmeg - 3:56 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0) [edited by: netmeg at 3:59 pm (utc) on Nov 14, 2011]
I'm not sure what the definition of a Big Brand is for these purposes - how to build a Sears or JC Penney or Amazon.com? Beyond the scope of this discussion, I hope.
If you want to build a *brand* that can compete with the big boys, you have to start (AS ALWAYS!) with a good business model. If you're doing what everyone else is doing, forget it. If you're doing 70% of what everyone else is doing, forget it. If you can't find a way to do it differently and do it better, forget it. You're probably not cut out for it.
You need to build trust, and you need to give off *clear* trust signals to your users and to search engines. Things like how long you've been in business, who's behind the company, who you have partnered with, customer testimonials, industry associations, cites, certifications, awards, whatever. They have to be real and they have to be true (and easily verifiable helps too)
And you need to build authority. WHY are you the better choice for this product, over the big brand, or anyone else? What do you offer that the others don't? This part is core to the business model you've decided upon, because if your business model is faulty, you won't get the authority you need.
(Pro tip - if you want to be known as the authority in some area, you have to TELL people you are the authority and tell them WHY you are. I've consulted on more than a few sites that could legitimately make the claim for their niche - but they don't know how to communicate it.)
And these days, I think you need to make it very easy for people to tell other people that you're the authority - i.e. you have to embrace the whole social sharing thing. How you do that varies, but it's important. Because if you want to be a brand - if you want your name to be synonymous with whatever you sell or service you offer - it's the *users* that will make you one. Not Google.
[edited by: netmeg at 3:59 pm (utc) on Nov 14, 2011]