Starbucks. Whole Foods. Apple. Loft. theSkimm. These are just a few of the companies that I am personally brand loyal too. Do you have any brands like that in your life that you will ALWAYS buy from, no matter what the cost? Whether you love their product or service, your parents purchased their product your whole life and it’s all you’ve known, you’ve had good experiences with the brand time and time again or you just love the feeling you get when you interact with the brand - these are all reasons that you may be brand loyal.
PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND BRAND LOYALTY
If you’ve never really thought about it in this context, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Brand loyalty is a real thing and it’s extremely powerful. According to Wikipedia, “brand loyalty is defined as positive feelings towards a brand and dedication to purchase the same product or service repeatedly now and in the future from the same brand, regardless of a competitor’s actions or changes in the environment.” Creating an emotional connection with consumers in order to form a bond is one of the most important things a company can do. It’s known that investing in existing customer versus putting all of your eggs into the “new customer” basket is less expensive and could potentially foster lifelong, loyal customers. In fact, a recent survey found that 75% of Americans are actually asking for brands to make it easier for them to become more loyalty.
I love to learn and read about why some companies gain more traction than others; how some brands create cult followings; why some campaigns are SO wildly successful and impactful and others aren’t. On the outside, it may just look like a bunch of companies promoting their business and trying to get as many customers as possible (which is true to a certain extent) but it goes so, so much deeper than that. There is actually psychology behind how it all works.
BRAND LOYALTY METHODS + EXAMPLES
Let’s look at a couple of examples, shall we? The three companies we are going to look at are extremely important in my life. I’ve been brand loyal to them for years so it seems only fitting to take a peek at some of the reasons I’ve latched on to them.
As you read the descriptions below, you might start to see some similarities between them. There’s no one formula for a brand to gain loyal or “cult-like” customers but when you start to peel pack the layers, you can see that the underlying methods are quite similar. In an article titled “What Makes Customers Loyal to Brands”, Matthew Foster outlines 6 methods that companies use to form deeper connections with their customers. They are Corporate Responsibility, Social Media, Nostalgia, Trust, Discounts and Special Offers, Customer Service. After providing a brief description, I’ve included which methods I believe each company is using to create brand loyalty among their customers and audiences. Let’s jump in!
(Currently #76 on Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Leaders List 2016)
If you don’t already get theSkimm in your inbox every morning, you need to stop what you’re doing right now and go sign up. Their tagline is “Making it easier for you to be smarter”. GENIUS! Every morning, you get an email in your inbox at around 6:30 AM with short summaries of news and stories from around the world. They take important topics and break them down into simple terms. It literally sounds like you’re talking to your best friend over brunch (Parent Trap references and all). For me, this is so helpful because it’s a quick, with links out to additional articles if I want to read more but it allows me to be in the know and have intelligent conversations about important topics with reading the news for hours on end. They also offer A TON of giveaways, prizes, and ways for you to become a Skimm’bassador by sharing theSkimm with your friends. Their main focus is loving on their readers, making the news easier to understand and make it fun along the way.
Brand Loyalty Methods: Trust, Nostalgia, Discounts & Special Offers, Social Media
(Currently #18 on Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Leaders List 2016)
Why would anyone pay $5 for a latte or drive 10 minutes out of their way to get coffee when you can make it at home or go buy it for $2 somewhere else? My husband asks me this question pretty much every day. And this is my answer. Because it’s an experience. You walk in those doors and the smell of coffee, the music, the warm tones of brown everywhere, and those bring brown leather chairs make you feel comfortable and relaxed. When you walk up to the counter and order your normal drink, you know for a fact it’s going to be the same exact drink you ordered the last 5 times. They run promotions like “Meet for Macchiatos”, they have a rewards program where customers get stars every time they make a purchase, and their corporate responsibility platform is huge - for their employees, the community, and their product.
Brand Loyalty Methods: Corporate Responsibility, Social Media, Trust, Discounts & Special Offers
If you’ve known me for any length of time, I’ve probably mentioned that everything in my closet is from Loft. I’m pretty much obsessed with the Ann Inc. brand but it goes much deeper than just their clothing. Every time I walk into my local Ann Taylor, they recognize me and greet me with a big smile. The brand resonates with my own personal values and mission. They run discounts for the general public and special offers if you’re a frequent shopper or have one of their credit cards. They partner with some of the top style bloggers and influencers to hold events to connect with their customers on a deeper level.
Brand Loyalty Methods: Customer Service, Social Media, Discounts & Special Offers, Corporate Responsibility
Like you can see above, you don’t need to use all 6 methods to create brand loyalty, but it is important to intentionally incorporate ways to create deeper connections with your audience and retain them as loyal followers, customers and/or clients.
If you aren’t sure where to start with creating a brand that attracts a loyal audience or customers, here are some simple steps to get moving.
Compare the 6 brand loyalty methods to your business model.
Which methods match up to what you are already doing in your business? Are there any synergies? Highlight these methods and pull them out of the list.
Brainstorm 3 ways you can intentionally include each of these methods into your business, marketing, campaigns, and content.
Once you have the list of methods that work for your business, it’s time to brainstorm how you can actually incorporate them. Write down 3 things you can start doing for each method. Since this exercise is all about retaining your audience and customers, it might be a good idea to ask them what they’d like to hear, see, or receive from you! Instead of playing the guessing game, it’s so much easier to hear it directly from the individuals you are trying to connect with!
Start simple and work your way up.
We all know the biggest brands and companies weren’t built overnight. It takes time to nurture relationships and get your customers to trust you. Start incorporating these methods little by little so you don’t overwhelm yourself and it doesn’t seem forced. Once you have a handle on your new offerings, content, or strategies - keep building on top of that.
The most important thing to remember is you need to stay consistent. Like I mentioned above, you want to gain your audience’s trust and the only way to do that is to continuously show up.
Which methods resonate most with your business? Are you using any of these methods already to attract a loyal audience?