What makes people loyal to brands? Finding a way into the hearts of your customer isn’t a scientific process. But there are some branding best-practices that make an emotional appeal, resulting in the kind devotion typically reserved for the people we love most.
The world is in a constant state of change. It’s an undeniable truth. But the lack of stability is uncomfortable for many people. The human mind strives for permanence as a way to find safe harbor amidst the uncertainty of change. Although it’s impossible to resist change, loyalty to something can provide a sense of consistency. The comfort of devotion is a reflection of dependability because loyalty, if properly maintained, can last forever.
Loyalty is complicated. It is defined by devotion and faithfulness, two equally complex concepts of their own. Understanding loyalty begins with an exploration of these principles. Their definitions provide insights into the core value loyalty brings to brands.
When customers, employees, influencers, and investors feel devoted to a brand it generates strong emotional connections through a sense of purpose and dedication. Faithfulness adds a second element of continuity, which provides a long-term belief system that raises an emotional attachment. As they interplay, loyalty is the result.
Philosophical debate is heated as to the precise nature of an object of loyalty. Some argue that loyalty is strictly interpersonal, and can only be for another person. In politics, loyalty is associated with fidelity to a nation or cultural beliefs. Others maintain that loyalty relies on strict honor to commitments or obligations. Regardless how loyalty is perceived, there’s a common concept: loyalty relies on an external reference or object.
We’re loyal to something. This is an important reason why brands are so important to people. Brands provide an object that people need for loyalty to exist. It’s not the result of a pure logical appeal. The heart responds to seduction… not to reason.
> Brand loyalty is how people show their devotion and faithfulness towards a brand. It’s a recipe for success, which is why branding is an opportunity for growth.
1. Sales- Loyal people purchase the same product or service repeatedly from the same brand, regardless of competitive tactics or changes in the market. Since the cost of acquiring a new customer can be high, customer repeat purchases can be more profitable.
2. Marketing– The passion generated by faith and devotion fuels a desire to share what they love. The resulting recommendations expose new people to the brand who arrive with a positive attitude. They perceive less risk, making them more likely to buy or try it themselves.
3. People- Brands with loyal followers attract the best people to work for them too. This can be a critical advantage in tight labor markets and helps retain the great people who are already on board.
Cultivating brand loyalty involves curating words, pictures, and symbols that reflect the products or services being offered. When they align with a person’s existing beliefs, brands can engage customers to forge an emotional connection. Brands that appeal to niche audiences make it easy. If the brand is an authentic reflection of a person’s views and it’s recognized as such, there’s a magical moment. This is the first experience that provides an initial imprint.
Brand experiences continue to occur when customers shop, search, use, or read about the products. Each encounter involves sensation, relation, and emotion. The stronger these feelings are to the individual, the more likely repeat purchase behavior will occur. Although it starts with the heart, the head gets engaged too. Psychological reasoning weighs the options, leading to a buy or not-buy decision. When this results in repeat purchase behavior, brand loyalty is beginning to form.
Brand loyalty isn’t merely repeated purchase behavior. There is deeper psychological reasoning as to why people continuously re-purchase products from one brand. True brand loyalty occurs when customers will pay higher prices for a brand, will go out of their way for it, and recommend it to the people they love.
> There are 6 fundamental ingredients in developing brand loyalty. Think of them as you plan your next marketing strategy.
1. Actions Speak Louder- Although you may have an impressive mission and vision statement, the real issue is what you do with them. Building loyalty isn’t a passive process, it’s active. Walk your talk and prove it with actions. Use social media platforms to help showcase your actions.
2. Show The Love- Brands that truly love their customers (and employees) attract the same affection from others. It has to be true, honest and authentic. Simply appreciating their business isn’t enough. What’s in your heart will be revealed, and if it’s true love they will know it.
3. Aim High- Striving for exceptional quality means holding yourself to a higher standard. As you achieve that quality, move the bar higher. Good is the enemy of great, so maintain a focus on being the best in the world. A relentless quest for quality delights customers with proof of how much you care about them.
4. Selfless Generosity- The cycle of abundance begins with giving. A sincere spirit of generosity will open receptivity where there might be closure. This isn’t about free stuff or discounts, on the contrary. Generosity comes in many forms. Find ways to give selflessly and the universe will settle the score with positive returns.
5. Gratitude Attitude- Appreciation for the things around you changes the way you see them. It lifts your own spirit and helps provide a positive attitude that is reflected in your brand. When you change the way you see the world, the world you see changes.
6. Charm- Attraction requires a bit of brilliance. Catching the eye of your audience comes from a pleasing and delightful sensibility. Charismatic enthusiasm shines a spotlight on your passion. It’s the lure that sparks fascination, calling people into action.
Building brand loyalty requires experimentation, combining these 6 elements in different proportions. The exact recipe for success isn’t the same for everyone. Start from the heart, and pour in what you instinctively feel makes the right mix. Then refine it as you assess the results. Take a long-term approach, moving slowly, bit-by-bit.
Once you’ve found the right formula, double-down and spread the word. By generating brand loyalty, you’ll enroll faithfull evangelists who help you do the work. Eventually, it’s even possible to develop a self-sustaining system that will generate predictable returns.
Loyalty requires continual reciprocation from the brand. If you’re successful, it’s not the time to take it for granted. Instead, make cultivating loyalty a joyful endeavor. That’s a win-win approach that can endure for generations.