Today’s market gives customers more options than they know what to do with. Regardless of what I’m looking for, I know I can choose between multiple brands. I have purchased more objects than I can count over the course of my life, but I’m only loyal to a few dozen brands. These brands have established a sense of brand loyalty within me.
Brand loyalty benefits both businesses and customers. For the businesses, they have have promoters. These are the people who will tell their friends about the brand, purchase the product based on name alone, and experiment with new products. For customers like me, I know I can expect a quality product. I won’t need to check reviews or shop around. I know what I need, and I know what product will meet my needs.
The bare minimum I expect in a brand: it does what it says it will. When I think of the products I spend money on, especially products where I could buy a cheaper alternatives, I expect the products to meet my expectations. They’re a reason I always want to buy Ray Ban sunglasses and not a cheap pair from a department store. They look good, protect my eyes, and are durable enough to survive the occasional fall. If a brand is not able to provide their advertised products or services, I have no reason to be faithful to that brand.
Stand Behind the Product
Some products are more complex than others. A brand who can offer support to their customers and will work to resolve issues has demonstrated confidence in their product and commitment building relationships with their customers. A brand who invests time in their customer will be rewarded with a customer who spends more time with that brand.
Similarly, a brand offering a product designed to perform in a certain way should stand behind the quality of that product. If a brand promises to replace a failing product or guarantees my satisfaction, I am more confident in that brand. A good example of this is the flip-flop brand Rainbow. While more expensive than the average sandal, they guarantee their sandals will last for the lifetime of their sole. I have a pair I bought in 2013 and they’ve survived five years: about five times as long as any other flip-flop I’ve ever owned.
Have a Recognizable Logo
People are more confident in a brand they recognize and having a strong logo will build that recognition. The logo should represent core qualities of the brand the convey them to the customer without explicitly stating them. Not only will customers begin to recognize your logo, but they will begin to associate specific traits with that logo.
Amazon has a quite simple logo with black or white text and an orange arrow stylized to look like a smile. Savvy consumers will know the arrow starts at the first A in the company’s name and goes to the Z because the company sells every product from A to Z.
When you’ve got a dedicated customer, that customer will begin to have expectations within the brand. As a brand, you should strive to meet those expectations. Delivering a consistent experience will establish your brand identity and allow customers to know the experience they’re getting into.
I’ve already praised In-N-Out Burger in the past, and I know the experience I’m getting into when I dine at one of the restaurants. Even if I visit a store I haven’t been to before, I expect the same serving sizes and quality of product. In my mind, a certain style of burger is synonymous with In-N-Out’s brand, and if I visit a store where I get a different experience I begin to have a negative image of the whole brand.
Change When Necessary
While consistency is important, change is inevitable. There are going to be times when a change needs to be made, but the change needs to be made for the right reason. Imagine if Netflix stuck to the DVD-by-mail service and never switched to streaming. They wouldn’t be experimenting the success they have today.
The key to making a successful change is transparency. Chick-fil-A recently took their cole slaw off the menu and some fans were’t happy about it. To respond, they explained the reasoning behind the change and shared the recipe with their customers. This respects the customers but allows the brand to make new changes with the intent of meeting customer needs.
Know Your Audience
Companies design products to appeal to a certain audience. While it’s natural to want to expand your audience, this may lead to your core audience questioning the brand’s authenticity. Advertising, marketing, and social media ought to project the personas of the core audience. By doing this, like-minded people will connect with your brand.
For example, Taco Bell seems to have a solid understanding of its core audience and has translated it into social media success. As a company embracing its quirks and the “lifestyle” associated with its customers, Taco Bell seems to know who they’re targeting with their ads. This works for their audience, but it wouldn’t work for a fancier restaurant or a luxury brand.
Show Results with Numbers
Many people use the term “quality over quantity,” but there are times when quantity makes a bigger impact. It’s one thing to call a product “better,” but a product that’s twice as durable as the previous generation sounds like there’s science behind the claim. Companies who can quantify their success with years of consistency or a high number of people served will also demonstrate their value, as they have many repeated customers.
McDonald’s has the slogan “over 99 billion served” on their signs. While McDonald’s may not be known for having the best burgers in the world, they’re very consistent. People know what they’re getting when they go to a McDonald’s, and that why they’ve served billions of meals. It’s also common for older brands to put their date of establishment on their packaging. If a product has used the same formula for over 100 years, I know they’re doing something right.
The competition for my business has never been stronger, and it seems like every business has a loyalty program. This encourages me to frequent a specific brand, because I know each purchase is incentivized with bonuses and perks. It’s also nice to have perks given to me for special events like my birthday or new product releases.
Dunkin’ Donuts has a great system where customers will get a free beverage for ever 200 points collected, which translates to $40 spent before any extra incentives are applied. New items often offer point bonuses, and the app also makes using coupons easy. One of the most notable incentives of the app is receiving a medium coffee for $0.87 when the Patriots win, honoring Rob Gronkowski’s jersey number. Getting coffee is a daily routine for many people, so Dunks gives me a reason to make them my daily coffee stop.
Care About the Customer, Not the Product
When it comes to advertising, the customer is the one who truly matters. Rather than just spewing a list of facts, it’s better to highlight the benefits customers will experience when using the product. It’s one thing to tell me a new smartphone has 2 extra hours of battery life. It’s another thing to show someone binging an entire season of a show on Netflix without having to charge.
Apple does a great job of this. Recalling the old iPod commercials where silhouettes would dance to music, it’s clear they wanted to show the joy of having thousands of songs in a small package. Their more recent commercials for the iPhone 7 or iPhone X with portrait mode have highlighted the benefits for their new phones. Rather than discuss all the specs of the phone, they show older and less tech-savvy individuals impressed by the quality of the photos.
Brand loyalty can seem complicated, as there are a lot of elements going into the single concept. While there are many ways to impact brand loyalty, everyone is a customer of one product or another. By putting yourself into the shoes of your customer, you’re better able to serve your customers. Excellent service will encourage customers to become repeat customers, and that builds loyalty.
I admit I’m not an expect on the topic, but it does interest me quite a bit. As competition increases, it seems important to have as many customers on your team as possible. Value each person with whom you work, and consider their opinions. If you find yourself struggling with this, my tips to build brand loyalty will give you the guidelines to get my support.
Originally published at www.michaelbeausoleil.com on July 24, 2018.