One of the most important attributes when building a brand strategy is finding ways to create brand loyalty among your customers because companies exist and thrive when they have loyal customers to support them. Brand loyalty is the dedication customers feel toward a brand that compels them to continue buying or interacting with its products or services. Loyal customers will choose a specific brand regardless of competitors, prices, or convenience. Brand loyalty is built through making meaningful connections with your consumers that will result in positive feelings.
There are three levels of brand loyalty:
1. Brand Recognition
The first step in brand loyalty is brand recognition and this occurs when a consumer has been exposed to a brand to the point where they can easily recognize it. Once your brand is recognizable, it will be the first they think of when thinking of or interacting with a product or service. To build brand recognition, you must consistently and repeatedly provide customers with marketing messages and collateral that will get their attention.
2. Brand Preference
The second step in building brand loyalty is brand preference. Brand preference is when a customer prefers your brand over any other similar brands. At this stage, consumers will have tried competitors' products and decided that your products or services are the best fit for them.
3. Brand Insistence
At the third step of brand loyalty, customers no longer compare your brand to competitors because they will automatically choose your brand no matter the circumstances. When consumers connect and identify with your brand and you provide them with quality products and services, you will be able to create brand insistence.
Importance of Brand Loyalty
Overall, brand loyalty is extremely important because it can be difficult to acquire customers in a highly-competitive market, and finding ways to keep customers coming back to you is essential. Therefore, building brand loyalists will directly correlate to your revenue growth because customers' connection to your brand will develop consistent purchases over time. The key to a long-lasting relationship with a customer is through forming a deep connection with them. As your company expands and changes, a brand loyalist will continue to support your brand through price changes or the entrance of new competitors because their connection with your company is deeply rooted.
Brand loyalty is also important because it will enhance your company’s positive word-of-mouth. A brand loyalist will not only consistently purchase from your business, but they will also promote your brand to others. Positive word-of-mouth can greatly enhance your brand awareness and is highly effective in bringing in new customers. As a result, building a strong relationship with your current customers can in turn assist in growing your customer base.
Ways to Build Brand Loyalty
1. Prioritize your brand strategy and story
One of the first steps towards building brand loyalists is through developing and executing a strong brand strategy. Your brand strategy determines how the company presents itself and consumers will automatically form opinions about it. First impressions matter because customers' initial touchpoints with your company can determine if they will choose to come back. Furthermore, your brand strategy needs to align with your ideal customer’s needs, wants, and drives. Therefore, you want to create a strategy that will connect with the target audience you are trying to reach.
A company can also work towards building a faithful customer base through the storytelling of its brand. Storytelling is a very effective strategy to emotionally connect with your target audience. Telling a compelling narrative will give your brand a personal touch that will give consumers something to relate to and interact with.
2. Build a community and engage with it
With the rise of social media and a new generation of consumers, there has been a shift towards community-conscious brand building. Building a community around your brand is a vital way to ensure growth and loyalty. Communities allow your consumers to be more involved and associated with a brand and encourage customer-to-customer interactions.
There are several ways that a company can build and interact with a brand community. Encouraging user-generated content will get consumers interacting with your company and with other brand users. This will put your customers in the spotlight and make them feel a part of your business. A business can connect with its audience by responding to customers’ messages on various social media channels, starting a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to your customers’ inboxes to ensure you are consistently reaching out, or listening to customers’ feedback and responding to their needs. These actions can all be utilized to show consumers that you care, form deeper relationships with your audience, and in turn foster a brand community.
3. Personalize your marketing efforts
Personalization within customer touchpoints allows you to interact with customers in a way that will resonate with them. This creates experiences that will make customers feel that their interests are important to the company. Personalizing your marketing efforts can include sending emails that have specific messaging tailored to the customer’s interests or needs, or gathering customer data to create marketing content that will speak directly to them.
4. Implement loyalty or referral programs
Another tip to help encourage brand loyalty is implementing loyalty or referral programs. Loyalty programs are a method to help show your customers that you appreciate their support and to encourage your most frequent customers. Offering customers rewards, points, coupons, or other perks will make them feel special and show them you appreciate their loyalty. Referral programs are a great way to incentivize your loyal customers to spread awareness about your brand. Your loyal customers may already be promoting your brand, so why not encourage and reward them for their loyalty even more.