Here's my opening quicklist:
- editorially reviewed and white listed sites ( usually in top verticals - chances are regional reviewers know your site well already)
- probability score ( as shown in auto suggest ) it always intrigues me when a not so well known person pops up on a TV show and how immediately the name is suggested using Googles auto suggest query. Including terms that surround the name that broaden the popularity of that name.
- links ( yes, they are scarce as hens teeth for some, but I believe they are still a key indicator)
- association and circles, who's in your neighbourhood
- newsworthy , who's regularly being picked up in the news ( this is not merely about press releases - it's about what's sticking out there )
- $$'s ; lots and lots. Unfortunately, you need to cleverly outspend your rivals in marketing promotion which self circulates into a reason for folks to search for you.
Hope that provides some food for thought. As always it comes down to action plans to make these things and others translate properly. Some of the above references might assist in complementing that plan.
But first, before you can position your site in the market with a brand reputation, it must pass the test of being "useful" before folks retain knowledge and share their positive experience.There's a separate thread on that.