How to build a brand worth being loyal to
What in the world does it mean to have customers that are 'brand loyal'?
It's the dream of almost every business to be someone's 'go-to'; the brand that they buy religiously, nag their friends about, are willing to slap branded stickers on their car of and shout about from the rooftops. For most brands, I've probably just described your Mum or most enthusiastic Aunty, but imagine, just imagine, if that person, that totally loyal, totally in-brand-love person, was a stranger. A total stranger who just really loves your work and what it stands for and what it delivers. That's quite a nice picture right?
Well, brand loyalty is possible, and surprisingly, not the elusive unicorn in the woods most of us imagine it to be.
The secret to creating a clientele who are brand loyal? Deep breath in - you need to become a brand WORTH BEING LOYAL TO. I know, I've just blown your mind.
But don't worry, I'm not going to leave you with that ultimate nugget of wisdom without unpacking it for you. Read on to uncover the three keys to unlock brand loyalty for your business.
1. BRANDING - SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT
When I mention branding, chances are that our minds go to very different places. That's because the term 'branding' is often broadened to encompass everything from your core ethos and values right through to the font you use on your contact page.
Branding is a broad and powerful beast, but at its core, 'branding' is how your business meets the world.
So the first and arguably the most important step in building a great brand is to know what and who your brand is and WHY your brand exists (shoutout to Simon Sinek, the King of Why).
Keyy have delved into the importance of this topic before [link] so I'm not going to harp on and on about it, but the time is now to examine your brand DNA. Pull it apart at the seams and have a look at what really makes you tick. Why were you founded? What's your company culture? What is your tone?
The reason this is so important is that customers are much more likely to buy from brands who they feel connected to. Sometimes overtly in what products we seek out but always subconsciously, we are on the lookout for brands whose values and aesthetic reflect our own or, at the very least, represent something we are striving to achieve.
Once you know and understand your brand DNA it may be time to review your physical branding, so that the public face of the company reflects the true beating heart you've come to understand.
The good news? This is where you get to show off and showcase exactly who you are as a brand. But remember, authenticity should never be forgotten. Only by creating a public face that is authentic to your true brand will you attract the unicorn, shoot-for-the-stars loyal customers who identify with and appreciate your business.
As a first step, think about creating some video content that showcases your brand and the 'why' behind the brand. Understanding your DNA is fantastic, but don't forget that your customers won't be able to appreciate this from first glance; create some content so that they can appreciate you like you deserve to be appreciated! Again, authenticity is the key here - there’s no use creating content for the sake of it; only authentic video content will truly allow your audience in and help to build that dreamy connection with your brand.
2. CONSISTENCY - MUCH HARDER THAN IT SHOULD BE
Chances are you've read the title 'Consistency' and thought one of three things:
Obviously, consistency is key! I always make sure my products/marketing/style follow the same formula so the customer is never surprised.
Boring. What happened to innovating your brand? I don't want to be stuck doing the same thing with my business forever.
I know about this already, be quiet.
At the risk of sounding paradoxical, if you've had any of these thoughts you're both entirely right and very very wrong (especially you, number three).
Brands must constantly balance the problem of innovating so that they don't become static or fixed to ideas and methods that aren't allowing them to grow, with the need to deliver a consistent experience to build trust with the customer.
The argument for consistency is a strong one. It is SO important that when a customer comes to your brand they can trust you'll be either meeting or exceeding their built expectations.
For example, often when traveling down the motorway on our way to the coast, my partner will inevitably steer us towards the trusty McDonald's arches. Despite my (half-hearted) protests, he'll almost always win the dinner battle by exclaiming 'you know you'll love it'. Because I do. I trust, without a second thought, that the greasy, barely flavoured double cheeseburger will taste exactly the same as it did the first time I ordered it as a 6-year-old.
Does this mean that McDonald's has never changed in its 65 odd years of being open to the public - of course not! They've changed in so many subtle ways to find and appeal to new markets and grow sales.
Being consistent does not mean being boring. As you grow you'll adjust to your markets, tinker with what you're producing and adapt to exceed your customer's expectations. But, if I can refer you back to step one, championing your branding and holding firmly onto your core values and ethos will ensure that you stay consistent in all the ways that are important to your brand.
By the same token, your marketing will change and evolve, but consistency is what will ultimately build your audience. If you decide to start releasing a weekly newsletter and after a month you realise it's only being read by three people, don't throw in the towel. Only by consistently releasing that newsletter each month will those three people start to anticipate and look forward to hearing from you, and only by that expectation being built will they start spreading the word and drawing other likeminded customers in.
3. QUALITY - BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY
Let's not forget about the real golden goose here - quality!
You want to be a trusted and respected brand? Then you need to prove that you're trustworthy. Just like that old ex who used to tell you time and again that change was a'coming, that they were definitely going to stop texting their ex/drinking all the milk/using that last slip of toilet paper, there is nothing that induces disloyalty faster than promising something you can't deliver.
So you say your business uses only the finest ingredients; well, does it? Do you think about where and how every product is sourced, and compare it to dozens of others until you truly have the best products available?
You say you have ten years of experience in the industry making you the best? Well, can you show us where you started and how you've grown to be the absolute wizard you are?
If you say something can be delivered in 3 days when it's likely going to take 7, then you're setting a bar that can't be reached and shooting yourself straight in the foot. While you work on reducing that turnaround time, why not rebrand the customer's expectations. Rather than say 'this product should be delivered to you within 3-7 days', why not create some positive change by saying 'within 7 days a brand new [product name] will be in your hot little hands. Lucky you!'
You've built your brand for a very purposeful reason and you believe in what you're doing, so stick to your guns and work to deliver the quality of work to your clients that you want to represent your brand.
Brand loyalty is a beautiful thing, and it's totally within your grasp. Remember that the process and the thousand tiny steps that happen behind the scenes to move forward are going to eventually build you the audience that your business deserves. It just comes down to the golden guidelines of branding, consistency and quality - with some incredible video content thrown in for good measure.