No matter how much of a stoic you may try to be, guaranteed, there’s something that tugs at your heartstrings.
It’s human nature. It’s also how we connect, as a species. Even if we’re in a foreign country and don’t understand the language, we understand a smile, a hug, or someone crying. It’s who we are. Even the Queen of England.
So when it comes to marketing, establishing those same types of connections will yield results. Maybe someone will get sad and change the channel, but if you strike the right chords, you’ll notice how more people reach out to you to purchase your goods or products.
And I’m not talking about being manipulative. After all, brand authenticity is a crucial element for customer loyalty. You want to connect in a way that aligns with your true values. But doing that takes a lot of strategic planning.
And yet, it behooves you to get it right, because while competitors may offer similar features and/or price points, emotional branding may be that extra boost that gets you across the finish line.
What Is Emotional Branding?
Emotional branding is a way to develop relationships with prospects and consumers. It’s done by relatable storytelling that humanizes your brand. Depending on the context, it can even make customers feel like your brand is part of their identity.
For example, think of the world-famous question: Are you a Mac or PC person? Other variations include Disney fans (especially those who live and breathe their magic), Nike (with their inspiring commercials of social justice) and Dove (with their inclusive Real Beauty campaign).
All of the companies mentioned above have competitors who offer comparable products. Some even are within an industry where consumers would be able to find lower prices. Yet, year after year, they continue being among the most successful businesses.
Emotional branding is even more important when you’re targeting millennial consumers.
This younger generation has expressed time and again that they are most interested in brands that help them live their values: For example, 73 percent of millennials said they are willing to pay more for offerings from companies devoted to social and environmental change.
As brands seek to adopt values, the right emotional tone makes them seem more believable.
B2B hasn’t escaped from this wave of change, either. More and more B2B product research roles are being taken up by millennials. They are stepping up as final purchase decision makers, too. Their decisions are sure to be shaped by their emotionally savvy approach.
Why Establishing Emotional Connections Matters in Marketing
Ok. So emotional connections make people feel good and all that jazz. But let’s take a closer look at why this happens.
It Develops Connections. Connections are what makes things memorable. You aren’t just an ad on a computer screen or a social media post to scroll through.
When your target audience forms an emotional connection with your content, they are more likely to engage — maybe they’ll give you a like, or a follow, or comment, or share your content with their friends and family. You become much more than a brand that offers something practical.
It Builds Trust.
Remember how I mentioned brand authenticity at the intro of this blog? Here’s where you get to shine with it.
When you do emotional branding well — when it showcases your values and core beliefs — customers start seeing you as a business with integrity. As a result, you’re seen as much more trustworthy than a company who’s selling products/services just for the sake of selling. You have a purpose that goes above and beyond your bottom line.
It Improves Perception Within Your Target Market.
Consumers react based on their perceptions. And for them to have a good impression of your business, you have to provide content that fits with subjective factors, such as their personal beliefs, values, and aspirations.
How does your company fit into that picture?
The Target Audience Experiences a Sense of Wellbeing
.You want to make them feel good whenever they interact with your content. Emotional branding creates a sense of relatability — and when done correctly, a sense of urgency.
It’s not the same to say that a mobile phone has XYZ capabilities than it is to show an elderly person getting teary-eyed while video chatting with their grandkid who lives across the country.
It Establishes a Sense of Belonging.
Everyone wants to belong. Even people who pride themselves on being introverts or lone wolves want to connect with others at some point.
It’s what gives people the feeling of being supported. It’s a fundamental human need. And while marketing materials can hardly substitute connecting with a loved one, a shared ethos can make people feel validated.
How Emotional Marketing Works
For emotional marketing to work, you have to tell a story. And yes, that may sound like a new age cliché, but in reality, it’s been an effective method of persuasion since the times of Aristotle. Specifically, you have to pay attention to those three nifty concepts we learned about in college — ethos, logos, and pathos.
Communicate why you should be trusted. Sure, this can be based on your credentials, but what really impresses people is your ability to thoroughly understand your buyer persona. So, how are you going to show them that you do?
Emotional reactions alone aren’t enough. You still have to provide something that makes sense. Be practical and realistic. Never, ever try to insult people’s intelligence.
This is where you implement a message that triggers the emotional reactions. What are the two emotions that cause people to act?
This trifecta is the perfect combination of ingredients that you need to include in all of your marketing strategies.
Types of Emotional Branding
While all emotional branding makes people experience deep feelings and can improve brand awareness, there are different approaches to coming up with such content. Depending on what you’re trying to communicate, you may want to explore some of the following:
Think about the Olympics, the World Cup, or any type of event that celebrates humanity and/or shared interests — New York’s Fashion Week, Coachella, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, March Madness, Pride parades.
When you acknowledge the feelings of elation these celebrations bring, you validate the participants. Big event sponsors have been getting this right for decades.
Nostalgia makes us look at the past with rose-colored glasses. It makes us romanticize everything about our youth, and smile longingly as we remember how Goonies never die.
This evokes positive emotions that make people more receptive to what you have to say. It’s why all of these pop acts from the 1990s keep making millions from their reunion tours.
Customer satisfaction is absolutely crucial for any company. When you lack it, you become the Spirit Airlines of your industry.
But beyond that, emotional branding increases the sense of customer satisfaction and accelerates sales. Therefore, crafting marketing campaigns that bring forth feelings of wellbeing — such as warmth, excitement, or a feeling of accomplishment — will go a long way in making both you and your customers happy.
How to Connect With Customers Through Emotional Branding
Every business is different, so you want to take into account your specific circumstances when crafting a strategy to connect with your target audience. However, keep in mind the following tips to get you started:
Identify Your Target Market Emotional Triggers.
When you truly understand your buyers and their specific pain points, it’s easier to determine which emotions will resonate with them. It makes sense to start here since pains produce emotions — often very intense ones — and emotion is key to justifying any major purchase.
For example, if you have a software solution that serves a compliance-driven industry with little margin for error, then reliability is a key selling point. The feelings of calm and safety that come with knowing a competent brand is on your side may be the associated emotions.
Tell Relatable Stories.
You want to tell the kind of stories that get people to enthusiastically nod in agreement. You want to make them tear up a little, or imagine how their lives would be if they accomplished something they’ve been yearning for a long time.
Dare to Be Vulnerable.
Once upon a time, vulnerability was seen as a sign of weakness. Do not show your emotions, or you lose.
But Princess Diana showed the entire world that when you’re publicly vulnerable, you’re sharing your human side; your relatable aspects. Nobody really wants perfection. People know that doesn’t exist.
Identify Motivators Depending on the Stage in the Buyer’s Journey.
A person who’s just finding out about their pain points is not going to be motivated by the same things as a person who’s ready to buy. Therefore, you should craft ToFu, BoFu, and MoFu content to cater to each stage of the buyer’s journey.
For example, writing inspiring and educational blogs for those at the top of the funnel, while offering “what comes next” content for someone who’s about to become a customer.
Turn Your Customers Into Heroes.
You could’ve graduated from Harvard Law School and invented the next best thing. You’re on Forbes. You’ve been interviewed by Oprah. You went to space with Elon Musk and that other guy.
But what’s in it for your customers? Your mom may be impressed by all of your accomplishments, but your only job is to make your customers feel like they can take on the world.
Use Video Content.
After Google, YouTube is the most visited website in the world. This is not a coincidence. Humans are visual creatures.
And while written content can certainly elicit an emotional reaction, video content will do it faster — and it’s more likely to be watched when shared. Bonus points if you add some dramatic background music that either reminds viewers of a bygone era or gets them pumped up about what’s to come.
3 Examples of Emotional Branding Done Right
Let’s look at some examples of entities who have gotten this right. They don’t need any introductions, and you’ll likely nod your head in agreement as you take a closer look at their emotional branding strategies.
I don’t know how much Sarah McLachlan got paid for those ASPCA commercials, but you’d have to be straight out heartless not to feel anything while watching them.
And the campaign’s effectiveness is highlighted by the fact that the ASPCA’s fundraising efforts more than doubled.
Nike has been producing inspiring social justice campaigns since the 1980s — attempting to fight ageism, homophobia, misogyny, and systemic racism.
And while a minor portion of the population may get their feathers ruffled over them, the company still remains highly profitable.
Source: Blog Mickey
Disney has never been about just theme parks and cartoons. It’s all about the experience — making people feel good, happy, nostalgic — and it has managed to accomplish this across cultures, age ranges, and income levels.
When talking about Disney magic, the emotional connections are as real as they can get.
Hit Your Goals With Emotional Branding
So there you have it. Everyone likes the sense of belonging that comes with emotional connections. We know that. You know that. Admit it. You’ve made plenty of purchases in the past because some ad or another made you feel good.
And if you need a little help coming up with some content strategy ideas, we’re here to give you what you want. What you really, really want.
Did you know that data breaches often result in businesses shutting down? Even if a company is thriving and winning in the market every day, all of that can be lost with just one cyber attack. With business secrets out, customer trust lost, and a ruined brand reputation, it’s often not possible to rebuild. Many business owners are unaware of the threat of data breaches and run their daily operations using very weak cybersecurity infrastructure. Successful business owners must avoid this mistake at all costs. In this article, you’ll learn 6 easy ways to protect your business data and maintain trust with your customers.
1. Use Strong Passwords
Passwords are the key to all of your important business data, and you want your key to be as secure as possible. Using weak passwords means securing your data with a weak lock. Through various types of cyber attacks, hackers can break that lock in no time. It’s just a matter of when they decide to do so.
Use long and complicated passwords for every single one of your business accounts. The best way to secure your passwords without worrying about forgetting them is by using a password manager for business. This simple tool will remember your passwords and keep them protected behind strong encryption.
2. Raise Phishing Awareness
Phishing is one of the biggest threats to any business’s data security, and you need to ensure that all employees are aware of it. Phishing is when fraudsters send text messages or emails to people and pretend to be someone they’re not. These messages usually aim to steal specific data from people or trick them into making purchases on their behalf.
People who aren’t educated on the most common phishing schemes are very likely to give away their information if they get targeted. So, you should set some clear communication protocols with your employees. Instruct them to never send their passwords through email, never click on random links they receive through email and verify any suspicious requests before taking action.
3. Keep Sensitive Data Under Wraps
The more accessible sensitive data is across your employee base, the higher the risk of a data breach. Members of your company might leak your data on purpose: insider threats are actually a huge problem. You never know when someone will fall for a phishing scheme and give away important data. It’s best to keep the most important business data under wraps on a secure cloud server and ensure that only a handful of people have access to it on a need to know basis.
4. Install Anti-Malware Tools
Each business desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device should have antimalware tools installed. The most important to install are a firewall and antivirus software. These cybersecurity technologies will keep ransom ware and malware out of your work devices and away from your sensitive customer and business data. Many devices come with antivirus software and a firewall pre-installed, but you should make sure that they’re enabled at all times.
5. Use Encryption
Encryption ensures that your customer and business data is safe from outsiders. To start, make sure that your office network is encrypted. This is the network where all of the most important business data is transmitted, and it’s the most likely network to be targeted by hackers. Next, set up Virtual Private Networks (VPN) for all of your business devices, which will keep business data encrypted even if the network is not. For example, public WiFi networks often offer no encryption, and you can never know when employees might connect to one of these when they are out of the office. Whenever employees connect to any network other than your office’s, they should be using a VPN.
Finally, you can also set up encryption for business email. If all else fails and employees connect to an unencrypted network without a VPN, then at least their emails will be encrypted and useless to cyber thieves.
6. Back It Up
If all of your business devices were lost, would your data still be safe and backed up? Most businesses have some sort of data backup set up, but it’s often not good enough. Your backup should be as safe and as updated as possible. If the data in your business is constantly changing, you should update the backup every day, or maybe even every hour. The backup should also be reliable. Maybe even keep a couple of backups to be absolutely sure that the data is always safe and secure.
The most important data within your business might get leaked or lost tomorrow. With the rate at which such cybersecurity incidents have been growing, you can never be sure your business is safe. Follow these data security tips to minimize the risk of a breach and protect the continuity of your business.
Big-name companies are jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon, allowing customers to pay with the cryptocurrency.
Overstock, Dish Network and AT&T offer customers the option to pay with Bitcoin. PayPal added a “check out with crypto” option in March that lets users to pay with Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash at merchants that use PayPal Checkout.
Should your small business follow suit? The answer depends largely on your customer base, business model and desire to learn about crypto. Here’s how to determine if cryptocurrency is right for your business.
Assess your learning curve
Roadway Moving, headquartered in New York, started accepting payment with bitcoins in 2017. Initially, the goal was to increase awareness of cryptocurrency. Ross Sapir, Roadway’s founder and president, is a crypto evangelist and began personally investing in it in 2017.
“Personally, I’m a crypto guy,” Sapir says. “Crypto works in alignment with my core values.”
Sapir was already well-versed in cryptocurrency before offering it as a payment option. But many small-business owners will need to learn about crypto from scratch in order to start accepting payments.
Reading a cryptocurrency guide is a good starting point. You’ll also want to consult with your accountant and make sure you’re clear on the tax implications and reporting requirements of accepting digital currencies.
“Cryptocurrencies are treated as property for tax purposes. Therefore, each use of crypto creates a tax realization event, potentially creating an administrative burden for the sender and the recipient,” Sung Choi, vice president of business development at Coinme, a digital currency exchange, said via email. “To avoid complexity, it may be better to limit using crypto for payments to more significant value transactions, such as buying a car.”
Consider your business model
Cryptocurrency is, by definition, a digital currency. While it can be easily adopted by e-commerce businesses, it’s less suited for traditional retail settings, Choi says.
“It’s challenging to scale accepting crypto payments in a brick-and-mortar setting with multiple employees and many point-of-sale (POS) devices,” Choi said.
For Roadway Moving, accepting cryptocurrency made business sense because the company occasionally handles international moves and jobs that come in at five or six figures.
“It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s secure. And the fees are tiny,” Sapir says. With international moves, Bitcoin payments clear in minutes rather than days, he says. “I don’t have to worry about funds being held or transactions being denied.”
Weigh the pros and cons
Cryptocurrency has some advantages over traditional payment methods, including:
Lower fees: Processing fees for crypto payments are typically 1% or less. On credit card transactions, businesses pay an interchange fee of 1% to 3% per transaction, plus processing fees and other charges set by the merchant services provider.
No chargebacks: Payment disputes are a major pain point for small businesses, which are on the hook for the refund and potential chargeback fees if a payment is reversed by a customer’s bank. Chargeback fees may range from $20 to $50 — and potentially be even higher — depending on the payment processor.
There are no chargebacks in crypto. Transactions cannot be reversed by the customer and refunds can be issued only by the retailer.
Disadvantages to accepting cryptocurrency payments include:
Volatility: The value of cryptocurrency can fluctuate, sometimes wildly, so it’s essential that businesses that accept crypto convert it to cash daily. Payment providers like Flexa and BitPay can do this instantly and automatically, negating volatility issues.
Practicality: Businesses typically can’t use crypto to cover operating expenses, either, so payments would have to be converted to cash to pay utilities and make payroll.
While security is often noted as a plus for crypto — Bitcoin has been called unhackable — there are other security concerns. If you lose the private key to your crypto wallet, for example, you lose access to any cryptocurrency held in that wallet (typically an app, website or physical device). Unlike funds in bank accounts, which are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., cryptocurrency isn’t insured.
How to start accepting payments with cryptocurrency
Technically, the first step to accepting crypto is to establish a cryptocurrency wallet and sign up for an exchange like Coinbase or Gemini so you can convert any payments received into cash. Then, you can add a payment button to your website, use a QR code or share your public wallet address to accept payments.
Customers may not jump on crypto payments right away; only two Roadway Moving customers have paid with bitcoins since the company started accepting it, Sapir says.
But crypto adoption is skyrocketing: This year, global users grew from about 100 million to more than 220 million from January to June, according to the cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com — and payment volume will likely follow.
Image credit: NerdWallet - NerdWallet
Do you have an iPhone or a Samsung? What’s your favorite running shoe? Music streaming service?
The answers don’t really matter, but across all these scenarios, it’s common to find consumers who are fiercely loyal to their preferred brands. And this is great. You like what you like. It ensures you get the quality products you expect and it provides your favorite companies with continued support.
Wouldn’t it be great to develop this kind of following for your business? At the end of the day, even if you try to play it cool, you know you’re hoping for it.
So let’s talk about brand loyalty. What, exactly, is it? What’s the psychology of it? And how can you develop it?
What Is Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty is the faithful disposition to continuously purchase products or services from a specific company. It doesn’t matter how expensive it is. It doesn’t matter how hard it may be to find, or how many hours they have to stand in line, or at what ridiculous time they have to wake up in the middle of the night to place an online order as soon as there’s a new product launch.
Brand loyalty goes hand-in-hand with consumers’ emotions. Maybe they love the product. They trust it. It makes them feel happy, excited, or rejuvenated.
Even if there are competitors offering similar products, in the mind of the loyal customer, anything other than their preferred brand would be subpar, so why even consider it?
Why Is Brand Loyalty Important
While at face value, it seems clear why brand loyalty is important, it’s good to keep in mind what makes it so valuable:
It’s More Cost Effective To Retain Existing Customers
Acquiring new customers is five times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Granted, if you want your business to be sustainable long-term, you do need to have a strategy to get new customers through the door on a regular basis.
However, nurturing your existing ones will keep the money coming on consistently.
Repeat Customers Typically Spend More
Repeat customers are already familiar with your brand identity and with your products. They know they love them. They’re also willing to spend more on them.
Ask a Mac person if they would prefer to drive an hour away to an Apple store to get what they truly want, or if they’d be willing to settle to go to the Walmart around the corner and get whatever tech product’s on sale.
In addition, it’s a lot easier to sell to them during new product launches, as well as cross-sell or upsell when they’re already buying something else.
You’ll Have Higher Conversion Rates
A loyal customer is more likely to continue buying from you repeatedly.
You already know what they like, and don’t have to spend as much time trying to figure out how to convince them that you’re God’s gift to the industry. In fact, they have about a 70 percent chance of converting.
Repeat Customers Are a Source of Referrals
Not only will you have loyal customers coming back, you’ll also likely see their friends and family who have to hear them wax poetic about you on a regular basis.
You can very well ask for the referrals, but you won’t really have to, since people love to talk about their newest gadgets and share info to validate their opinions on social media.
The Psychology Behind Brand Loyalty
When customers develop a sense of brand loyalty, they’re building an emotional connection to a business. Not only do they feel like they belong, they also get excited to represent a company in some way, as a fan and an advocate.
Human beings can be complex — which is why before you can earn this level of loyalty from your audience, you first need to better understand the psychological side of the consumer-business relationship.
From the company standpoint, you deliver value by crafting a consistently exceptional customer experience. Consumers start to develop positive associations with your brand and have a clear set of expectations every time they interact with your brand.
This powerful connection comes down to needs and actions, which is where Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Aristotle’s Seven Causes of Human Action come into play.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper introduced this psychological theory on human motivation and development.
This theory suggests that human needs fall into six categories:
The concept is that these needs are hierarchical, and humans need to fulfill one category before moving up the pyramid to acquire the next need.
The first category — physiological — involves the basic essentials, like food, water, shelter, clean air, and clothing. Once you fill this need, you move to the second category, which is safety. These needs include family, stable employment, good health, and a sense of personal security.
Then, you need a sense of love and belonging, which is the third category. With strong friendships, intimacy, and other meaningful relationships with others, you’re then able to seek the fourth category: esteem. This is where you cultivate confidence, respect for and by others, and feelings of recognition and freedom.
The first four layers of the pyramid are referred to as deficiency needs, meaning that if you don’t have them, you experience tension and anxiety. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization, where you seek personal growth and realizing your full potential, which is a highly personal experience.
Each category becomes less essential to human survival as you move up the pyramid, but they all play a role in the human experience on an emotional level. Marketers focus on each level and strive to address these needs for consumers.
Aristotle’s Seven Causes of Human Action
What causes humans to make decisions and take action? This is a timeless consideration that Aristotle sought to answer in his treatise called Rhetoric, which dates back to the fourth century BCE. One of his most noteworthy quotes appears in this publication
“All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire."
This applies directly to the customer experience, where you can boil down buying decisions to seven causes.
Customers can sometimes happen upon something your company offers by chance, without any fixed purpose behind it. They might stumble upon a brand and buy something without a clear motive.
Sometimes, there is a force of nature influencing a customer’s decision to buy something. For example, hunger might cause you to eat at a nearby restaurant.
Often, buyers will simply act on instinct and desire, making an impulsive decision to buy a product or service. Perhaps an irrational behavior moved someone through the buyer’s journey, without any feeling of clear desire or rational thought. But regardless of the impulse, the purchase is made on their own terms, not simply by chance.
Humans are habitual by nature, so sometimes they purchase things based on their previous patterns of buying. For example, if you always shopped at a supermarket nearby, you’re likely to stay in that habit and continue shopping there for the sake of consistency and comfort.
At some point, a buyer makes their decision after determining the product or service will be useful for them. In other words, they’ve thought about it, researched it, and identified a rational motivation to make the purchase.
Emotions fuel decision making for people sometimes, so when they’re triggered by an emotional experience, they feel compelled to buy. A purchase is tied to satisfying their feelings in some way.
Without rational thinking and reasoning, people can feel overcome with an intense feeling of wanting and desiring. Buyers simply want something (like a kid wanting a candy bar they see near the checkout line) and the purchase creates a positive feeling, often one of satisfaction.
These psychological theories are important to understand when you’re aiming to foster loyalty. Companies that appeal to the inherent needs of humans and that touch on the causes behind action win big by developing customer loyalty and brand loyalty.
Customer Loyalty vs. Brand Loyalty
These terms, while closely aligned from a conceptual standpoint, are often considered to be interchangeable, but there’s actually a distinct difference between the two.
Customer loyalty centers on the consumer and the power they have when it comes to their personal spending. Money plays a big factor in customer loyalty. If you’re offering the lowest prices and best deals, customers will stick with your company.
On the other hand, brand loyalty is achieved through the customer’s perception of a brand. How they perceive companies is less about pricing than it is about other important aspects — a company’s reputation, the customer’s experience they’ve already had with a company, the company’s marketing efforts, overall messaging, and much more.
These two concepts are equally important and have a major impact on your business as a whole. With competitive pricing and consistent special offers, you can develop customer loyalty.
And by staying true to your company’s values and delivering high levels of quality in your products and services while serving and supporting your customers well, you earn brand loyalty. At this point in the customer experience, they don’t feel a need to check out your competition because you consistently provide value for them.
When you can achieve both these levels of loyalty, your customer retention soars. You even turn happy customers into loud and proud advocates who are happy to refer other potential buyers to your company. And the ultimate level of loyalty is attained when your community of customers (and some may even call them fans) reaches a cult-like mentality.
How to Develop Brand Loyalty
Now that we’ve set the stage and explained what drives customers (well, people in general) to behave a certain way, let’s go over several steps you can take to develop brand loyalty:
Even if you graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law School or built a rocket ship that can get you to the moon and back in 10 minutes, the spotlight should be on your customers.
They’re not contacting you because they want to know what you’ve accomplished. They’re here because they need something.
So provide it. Make it all about them. Be empathetic. Train your team well so that they can offer exceptional customer service. Make interactions with you as easy as possible. Ask for their feedback and take it seriously. Invest in customer service software that will help you make it all go smoothly.
Provide Value at Multiple Touchpoints.
You should always provide value to your customers — and do so in a way that makes you stand out from competitors. And this doesn’t just apply to the goods or services they may purchase from you.
You can offer value for extended periods of time even before a person becomes a customer by using inbound marketing. You can get started by researching your buyer persona.
Once you identify their pain points, offer solutions through your online content: explaining a concept, posting infographics, how-to guides, video tutorials, product comparisons, etc.
Engage With Customers.
Engaging with customers makes them feel seen and heard — both offline and online. Connect with them by asking them what they want, what they’d like for your business to offer, providing a live chat, sending follow up emails, responding to comments and reviews on social media.
Even if you think that you don’t have enough time to do the latter, you can use social media management tools to make this task easier for your team.
Personalize Your Customer Service and Support.
Not everyone’s at the same stage in their buyer’s journey. Therefore, everyone who comes into contact with your business needs to receive different types of information and service.
You should also greet them by name if they’re a repeat customer, make suggestions based on their needs and past purchases, take into account their preferred method of contact, and give your employees the authority to make decisions on the spot, to make the customer experience a customized one.
Be Proactive in Addressing Customer Needs.
Don’t wait until a customer needs a solution to reach out to them. Provide them with free content that educates them on the topics they’re interested in (as long as they’re relevant to your business!).
Admit mistakes before they find out about them — and let them know how you’re planning on rectifying them. Make suggestions based on their anticipated needs: If you sell running shoes and you know they’re training for a marathon, reach out when it’s time to replace them.
If you’re an MSSP and you recently found out about a new cybersecurity threat, ramp up their security before they contact you first. You get the drill.
Treat Your Employees Well.
Have you ever been to a business where it’s clear the employees are just there for a paycheck? They may seem uninterested, uninspired, or even just plain miserable.
Chances are that the reason is because they hate where they work. And hey, don’t go looking for ways to disparage them. Wonder why their employer isn’t paying attention to this issue.
On the other hand, when employees are trained properly, given the opportunity to excel, and empowered to make decisions, they feel valued and are happy to come to work.
Pay them well. Promote from within. Listen to what they have to say. This will reduce your turnover rate and motivate them to do their best in their job roles. And customers will definitely notice.
Go the Extra Mile.
You already know what it is your customers want — and so do your competitors. So constantly look for ways to exceed their expectations. Pay attention to their purchasing patterns and listen to what they have to say. This will help you identify and anticipate their needs and offer solutions.
Always be polite, even if you’re having a bad day. Send a handwritten thank you note (or hey, send them flowers if they’re going through a hard time and you’ve known them for a while).
Zappos is a master at getting this done. These actions will make customers feel happy to do business with you and keep them coming back for more.
Provide Excellent Customer Support.
Alright. Listen up, because it seems like a lot of companies are falling behind on this — and it’s not doing you any favors. Customer support is the backbone of any business.
Even if you truly sell the most wonderful goods ever created by humankind, if you treat customers poorly (or if they leave feeling angry or frustrated after an encounter with you), they’re not going to come back. In fact, 96 percent of respondents in the Microsoft State of Global Service Report stated that customer service plays a role in their choice of and loyalty to a brand.
Ask for Customer Feedback.
What’s your favorite color? While I could try to do an educated guess by looking at your social media posts, past purchases, and what you like to wear, the only surefire way to learn this is to ask you directly. So yes, by all means, do market research. It’s crucial to be successful at what you do.
However, when you ask your customers directly, you’re letting them know you value their opinion — especially when you implement good suggestions. This also helps you gain insights on how to improve your offerings and give them exactly what they want. And wouldn’t you become a raving fan of a business who does that for you?
Build Relationships with Customers.
Life would be pretty awful (and everyone would be pretty cynical) if every single interaction with people you encountered was exclusively transactional. Pay for a service, faceless person. Bye. That bedside manner would not gain you any fans.
Customers are the reason you exist; the reason why you are able to take your family on fun vacations to Aruba. So go out of your way to make them happy. Establish conversations with them. Find out their likes and dislikes. Why do they need what they need? Show your appreciation by rewarding them (more on that below).
Reward Loyal Customers.
Rewarding loyal customers is a way to retain your existing base, which we’ve already discussed is more cost effective and leads to higher conversion rates. This can include sending them samples, announcements of pre-sales on items that sell fast, letting them know about a rewards program, offering referral discounts, coupon codes, or a free item with a purchase of another product.
Do keep in mind that you should be strategic about this. Get to know your customers so that you can actually offer them rewards that are relevant to them.
Stay in Contact With Customers.
Staying in contact with customers is a way to nurture them (aka, letting them know that you value their support). There are many ways to do this without looking like you’re pushing for another sale.
You can send birthday and/or anniversary cards, discount codes for items they purchase regularly, recommendations based on their previous purchases, online surveys asking for their feedback, emailing them newsletters, and even just engaging with them on social media. This lets them see that they’re more than a faceless number.
23 Brand Loyalty Examples
A cult-like brand is one that delivers a superior level of customer loyalty. Beyond that, customers feel a sense of ownership with the brand and its products, and no other brands can compare.
A cult-like brand doesn’t just fizzle out like a fad; its customer loyalty is sustained over time and continues to build a close-knit community of dedicated followers. In the end, these brands not only provide customers with a product, but a lifestyle they can continue to embrace for a lifetime.
True fanatics will not only remain loyal to your brand, but they will also tell their family members, friends, and social networks why. Loyalty even yields more revenue — a staggering 43% of U.S. customers spend more with the brands and companies they are loyal to.
There are many ways to build that type of brand loyalty: From simple acts of kindness, like donating a portion of profits to organizations that are important to your consumers, to creating a social sense or organization around the brand.
Here are 23 examples of companies that embody the term brand loyalty and, in turn, have developed a following like no other.
Apple is the epitome of a cult brand. Since the beginning, they’ve built machines that are designed around their customers’ needs. They’re constantly seeking feedback and engaging in conversations with customers about new products.
As a result, Apple provides users with the features they want and has built a loyal community.
Amazon has grown into the largest online shopping destination by creating a magnificent customer experience.
From allowing customers to provide feedback, to free returns and fast shipping, Amazon embraces the phrase, “The customer is always right!”
Since their beginning, Lululemon has strived to be more than just a workout gear shop. In their own words, they “wanted to create a community hub where people could learn and discuss the physical aspects of healthy living, mindfulness and living a life of possibility.”
Lululemon’s ambassador program continues to support local athletes and inspirational people building stronger communities. They currently have over 1,400 ambassadors – talk about a passionate community!
IKEA designs products based on customers’ needs. They don’t just conduct surveys; they visit people’s homes to see how they live. For example, after visiting customers in Italy and the U.S., IKEA saw that U.S. customers rely on drawers for clothing storage more than in Italy.
The result? Deeper drawers in their American products.
5. Dunkin’ Donuts
When it comes to coffee, there are two big brands that come to mind. One of them is Dunkin’ Donuts (soon to be renamed Dunkin’). They have been serving up their cup of Joe since 1950 and haven’t looked back since.
What originated as a donut and coffee shop has evolved into much more than just your average coffeehouse. With plenty of menu offerings, it’s clear that Dunkin’ has evolved and changed with the times to satisfy their loyal customers. Their DD Perks constantly encourage customers to buy their products.
The other large coffee brand that comes to mind is Starbucks. Starbucks not only creates quality products, but they also make it easy to purchase. Their “Order & Pay” feature creates an in-app experience that can recall your favorite orders, suggest pairings, and guess where you’d like to pick it up, making it easier to get your morning cup of coffee.
Their rewards program is a strategic way to boost sales while thanking loyal customers for always choosing them. When members spend a certain amount and gain a certain number of “stars,” they receive a free drink or treat (score!).
7. Jimmy Buffet
Sure, he’s a musician and an entrepreneur, but he’s also a $100 million a year brand! Buffet has created something larger than simply music — he’s created a lifestyle.
Whether it’s from his albums, concerts, or restaurants, “parrotheads” enjoy a temporary escape into the land of fun.
8. Harley Davidson
This iconic American brand uses grassroots and guerrilla advertising to make their customers feel like a part of the family. In 1983, the launch of the Harley Owners Group (or H.O.G.) was a grassroots way to connect Harley’s brand and lifestyle with its most fanatic customers.
Today, this company has sales of $2.9 billion and a 25% market share in the U.S.
Since its debut in 1964, Nike shoes have been spotted on the feet of high-profile celebrities, athletes, and the everyday person.
With limited editions, collectibles, and hype launches, Nike has built a community of shoe-lovers who want to be a part of something bigger and “just do it.” With the ability to customize sneaker colors on its website, everyone can walk away a happy customer.
10. Saturday Night Live
For 43 years, SNL has been creating laughter and making strong social commentaries in the world of politics and pop culture.
While the cast may be the backbone of the show, and they’ve had some weak seasons, their use of special guests has worked to keep the brand relevant and credible – and their fans have stuck around for decades!
SoulCycle’s mission statement says it all: “At SoulCycle we believe that fitness can be joyful. We climb, we jog, we sprint, we dance, we set our intention, and we break through boundaries. The best part? We do it as a community.”
When you work out at SoulCycle, you are a part of an inner circle that has the same interests and goals. Everyone from the staff to the other members are on your side.
SoulCycle also takes customer feedback very seriously. According to co-founder Elizabeth Cutler, customer feedback has influenced everything about how SoulCycle looks and functions, and even how the studios smell.
Another fitness business with a cult-like following, CrossFit reaches their customers through great marketing.
And like SoulCycle, it taps into their members’ desire for community. Their messaging reads more like a “movement” that encourages ownership in their brand.
13. The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Ok, Ellen might not technically be a business, but since 2003 this multi-millionaire has built an unbreakable bond with her audience, and tuning into her show has become a lifestyle for millions of viewers around the world.
Her joyful attitude, love of scaring celebrity guests, and constant giveback to the community and those who are striving to make it better has gained her a following like no other TV host.
14. Southwest Airlines
For Southwest, brand loyalty starts with their employees. In fact, they’re profitable because of them. Customers on Southwest are treated well, and the employees’ state of mind and attention makes them feel like they’re a part of something bigger.
As a result of their employees, Southwest experiences fewer lost bags, fewer delays, and more loyal customers!
15. Dollar Shave Club
This is a relatively new addition to cult-dom. Dollar Shave Club has built their brand into every product they sell. From their logo to their emails to their packaging, they are consistent across all media.
They sell a message that hits home and builds brand loyalty… quality products at affordable prices.
For decades, Coca-Cola has garnered a following through its ability to bring happiness to people around the world every day. With 50 million worldwide Facebook fans, Coke engages with them in a quest to find a way to make the world a better place.
Its “Share a Coke” campaign actively encourages a positive community of people who get along – you can even order Coke cans with customized names on it, meaning no one is excluded from this community.
GoPro makes high quality, easy-to-use video cameras. By adding user-generated content on their website, it has given users a sense of ownership and built a huge following of loyal fans.
GoPro’s social media presence resonates with its audience and inspires adventure and creativity.
18. Star Trek
Star Trek has produced nine motion pictures, five different TV series, dozens of books, and hosted endless conventions. None of this would have happened without the support of the fans.
To date, the franchise has grossed hundreds of millions of dollars based solely on the efforts of their fans. Talk about a loyal customer base!
19. Dos Equis
The most interesting man in America is a brilliant campaign that created quite the following for Dos Equis. Their messaging speaks directly to the buyer’s need of self-actualization and esteem.
All men envy and strive to emulate this character. His life is rich in stories and experiences, and consumers want to relate.
20. Volkswagen Beetle
One of the best selling automobiles of all time didn’t start out that way. When first introduced to America, the Beetle was not well received.
In the 1960s, Volkswagen took a novel advertising approach. While the big three were all advertising their vehicles with slick ad copy and boastful claims, VW’s ads were frank, honest, and direct, winning consumers with their approach. As a result, VW became a magnet for those who saw themselves as being “different,” and an icon was born!
21. The MINI Cooper
Taking a page from the VW playbook, MINI set themselves up as “something different.” In a world of gas guzzling SUVs and cars getting bigger every year, MINI came along and prided itself on being smaller. They’ve positioned themselves as a cult brand by celebrating individual drivers and building customer communities to bolster the brand experience.
22. The Motley Fool
Financial matters are serious and important, unless you follow the Motley Fool! Their brand is based on making financial matters fun. It’s written into the mission statement.
Lovers of this brand are committed to saving for retirement and managing their money responsibly, but they are loyal thanks to the culture of freedom and fun this brand brings to the process.
23. Ben & Jerry’s
From the humble beginning, Ben & Jerry’s has grown to a worldwide brand. But they create more than just delicious ice cream.
The brand’s consumers love the ice cream, but thanks to the company’s eye on progressive causes and social awareness, they also enjoy the message being delivered.
Earn Followers Through Brand Loyalty
Whether it’s building a sense of community or providing outstanding customer service, each of these 23 brands have built quite the following. And that community building takes a lot of time and resources.
When thinking about how your brand can stand out from the crowd, look to these methods and brands for inspiration. Brush up on the psychological needs and emotional triggers that dictate how your target audience makes decisions and how they purchase products or services they need.
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