“I choose you. And I’ll choose you over and over and over. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat, I’ll keep choosing you.”
– Cheesy Valentine’s Day Card
Every year on February 14th, we celebrate our significant others, close friends and beloved family members by expressing our feelings towards them. However, this Valentine’s Day got us thinking about another kind of love — the loyalty people have for their favourite brands.
What does this loyalty mean? How do brands earn loyalty from audiences? And like in every long-term relationship, how is this loyalty sustained?
Whether you work for a global company, a government department or a local non-profit, we hope this article will help you create a more passionate, long lasting and mutually rewarding connection with your audience.
What is brand loyalty?
A brand is not a product or service. A brand is not a logo. In fact, a brand is not just one thing.
Rather, as marketing expert Seth Godin puts it, a brand is: “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another”.
Brand loyalty is when consumers continue to make the same decision for a product or service over and over again. Loyal consumers are proud of their favourite brands and many aren’t shy of getting into the occasional heated debate about one brand over another.
How do brands earn loyalty?
Thousands of brands are fighting for the attention of audiences, and the ones who cut through the clutter and win hearts and minds have found ways to connect with people on a deeper level.
Here are 3 keys for brands to earn loyalty:
1. Dedication to quality and experience
It doesn’t matter if the packaging is pretty or if something is half price. At the end of the day, a product or service needs to satisfy people’s needs and wants in order to be successful. If a consumer is happy with the quality of a product or service, there is a higher chance that he or she will come back for more.
And if a consumer is unhappy, the experience of formalizing a complaint or a return should be an easy and reassuring one. A positive customer service experience may result in that person giving the brand another chance.
2. Understanding your target audience
Good communication is a fundamental part of every relationship. Brands need to understand their target audience in order to connect with them in a meaningful way. And that is true for any kind of interaction with them, from direct mail to email to social media, etc.
For example, a company offering services to senior citizens is likely not going to be very successful using typically “young” platforms like Snapchat or Instagram to reach them.
3. Building trust with shared values
A brand should have and be committed to strong core values that serve a purpose, cause or belief. As Simon Sinek explains: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Brands win the loyalty of consumers who share the same values.
For example, these are Starbucks’ core values:
- Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome
- Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect
- Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results
- We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity
By letting these principles guide everything the company does, Starbucks is able to gain another critical element of brand loyalty (and of relationships of any kind): trust.
How is brand loyalty sustained?
Although it may be love at first sight, not all relationships can stand the test of time. Just like people, it is only natural that brands change, evolve and grow. That’s ok, but it’s important for brands to keep their current consumers in mind as they move forward.
Making drastic changes too fast or ignoring their current consumers needs and wants may result in consumers saying these 5 dreaded words: “It’s not you, it’s me”. And we all know what that really means…
Banfield brand loyalties
For fun, we sent a survey around the office to see where everyone’s brand loyalties lie. Check out our results in the infographic below (with an animated GIF explaining the creative approach we took to modernize the traditional pie chart).