Brand loyalty is the automatic association of a company with positive characteristics. When people associate a company this way, they become brand advocates or evangelicals, as some marketers coined.
Increasing brand loyalty is a long-term strategy, but it begins with a single mission statement.
For example, what do you think of when you hear ‘Disney’?
Magical. Ethereal. Escapism. Childhood.
Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger nailed the concept, saying, “When you create a brand, you ask yourself the question: When I put that brand name on the product, what does it convey?
If I say to you ‘Disney,’ you know exactly what it is. There’s a feeling inside you. You immediately have a visceral feeling about it.”
Because of Disney’s incredible branding, the company has a 70% return rate on first-time visitors. They had such a positive impression that they created strong brand loyalty from the very first time a park-goer stepped through their gates. (Disney Resorts also grossed $20 billion in revenue in 2019.)
They’re also the largest media conglomerate in the world, acquiring Pixar Animations Studios, ESPN, ABC, and other channels, to grow over the years. These calculated purchases widen their ability to create new content and stay true to their brand, creating loyalty from a larger, newer fanbase.
It’s about balancing brand loyalty and consumer behavior.
- Who are you talking to?
- What do people want?
- How and when do they want it?
- Where in the world will they be?
- Can your company give it to them?
Using Disney as your North Star, how can your company go above and beyond to increase brand loyalty in 2021?
It begins with quality content, products, and/or services all with the same mission in mind: To tell a story and put the consumers' experiences first.
Accessible Customer Service: An Example of Brand Loyalty
Going back to the Disney example, the company does an exceptional job at assisting with inquiries from guests. They understand that it’s all about being helpful and providing answers.
That’s why “cast members” are scattered throughout the parks, and everyone has knowledge of everything.
This makes customer service accessible and friendly.
Think about your own experiences: There’s nothing more frustrating than when you have a problem or question and can’t find a company’s point of contact.
Searching every page to find a phone number or address is unsuccessful. Reaching dead phone lines or unanswered emails is a waste of your time. Sending an email to a generic address is impersonable.
You become frustrated and take that frustration out on the company. You don’t buy from there anymore, and you don’t recommend it to anyone. You might even share your negative experience online.
The truth is, this is an entirely avoidable situation.
Enhance your company’s customer service department to increase brand loyalty.
Having easily accessible contact info is only part of the equation, though.
Your company must respond to inquiries promptly and with genuine concern. Customers might eventually lose interest in their inquiries, giving them time to search for brands with more efficient customer service and equal value or quality.
Build an effective customer service department by creating multiple channels for communication. Offer emails, phone numbers, and direct chat on your website.
Another great avenue of communication is social media:
- Facebook (www.facebook.com). Some of the best examples of brand loyalty come from large corporations, like Starbucks. Built on high-quality customer service, the coffee giant has representatives monitoring social media comments and mentions. This allows them to promptly address customers’ concerns, answer questions, and interact with their fanbase.
- Facebook Messenger. Like direct chat, Facebook Messenger allows people to send quick inquiries to companies. It eliminates the waiting period of emails, and the dial tones and redirects of phone calls.
Even the TSA offers Facebook Messenger, so you can ask an agent anything before takeoff. Get flight changes, send FAQs, and more.
- Instagram. A great way to boost customer service is to monitor Instagram comments. It’s quick and easy, and many users are accustomed to doing it for personal use … with an instant response. Take this brand loyalty example from Cocokind Skincare:
- Twitter. Many travelers use Twitter (www.twitter.com) to air their flying grievances, as most airlines have very active customer service teams on this platform. It enables quick communication and resolutions (although the latter usually takes place via private message).
A multichannel strategy allows your company to streamline and dominate your customer service presence. If you give users a variety of ways to communicate, they’ll associate your company with those positive characteristics: Helpful, attentive, and willing to go the extra mile.
Additionally, the more human interactions you provide, the more people will be assured that they made the right choice in standing by your brand.
By providing customer service on their preferred platforms, you balance brand loyalty and consumer behavior.
Add Value for Strong Brand Loyalty
People invest their time and loyalty into brands and people that will benefit them, whether short or long term.
Yet, there’s a shift in consumer behavior called corporate social responsibility (CSR).
According to the Harvard Business Review, the main goal of CSR is “to align a company’s social and environmental activities with its business purpose and values.”
That means taking care of the well-being of employees, the environment, and communities that the company serves.
Today, consumers want to know that the purchase they’re making goes a long way in benefiting the bigger picture.
We constantly aim to invest in what matters. Make your brand one of those priorities by aligning it with a cause.
For example, Google (www.google.com) is one of the most well-known companies in the world. Its brand loyalty goes beyond having a fanbase. “Google” is a verb in the dictionary. It’s a fabric of everyday society.
More than 90% of the world uses Google Search, and the largest percentage of those users are Millennials and Generation Z. These two demographics prioritize CSR, so Google became carbon neutral in 2007. They aim to be carbon-free by 2030 with sustainability initiatives.
But Google is free.
So, how do real products and services incorporate CSR?
Check out the best examples of corporate social responsibility for ideas:
- Mrs. Meyer’s is an eco-friendly company that offers safer alternatives for everyday household essentials, like kitchen soap, laundry detergent, paper towels, and more.
- Dawn Dish Soap commits to creating a product so gentle but tough that it’s saved wildlife from oil pollution for over 40 years.
- Thrive Causemetics is a makeup company that uses a portion of proceeds to help women fight cancer, survive domestic abuse, and emerge from homelessness.
The best part is that revenue doesn’t have to suffer.
SGB Media states, “According to CGS 2019 U.S. Consumer Sustainability Survey, more than two-thirds of Americans consider sustainability when making a purchase and are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
Gen Z shoppers led the way with 68% having made an eco-friendly purchase in the past year.”
A high-quality experience is sure to rack up a high-quality following. However, if you want to increase long-term brand loyalty, align your mission with what your audience cares about.
Share the Results of Brand Loyalty
Want to know how to achieve brand loyalty?
Whenever your customers have positive experiences, don’t be shy about sharing them. Referrals are known to be the best source of consumer trustworthiness, so repost the positivity. This is a great way to interact with potential customers and to build loyalty with current ones.
(Additionally, honest feedback will help your company improve. That’s why customer reviews are the most concrete way to make essential changes.)
Use your multichannel strategy to share real customer experiences. In addition to product review sites, social media is a popular way to showcase your company.
Taking another example from Cocokind Skincare’s Instagram, they often share the effectiveness of their products by showcasing customers’ results.
This particular post shares the before-and-after of a customer using the brand’s Turmeric Spot Treatment stick on her skin. Cocokind leveraged this review to show followers and potential customers that their products work.
Reward Loyal Customers
Appreciation goes a long way when it comes to establishing loyalty with customers. Many brands incentivize the buying process with a loyalty rewards program.
- You reward customers with extra perks and promotions after shopping with you.
- Your customers use those perks and promotions to keep shopping with you.
- The cycle continues, and loyalty is established.
A great perk for you is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Look to Target as a great example of what a rewards program can do.
They developed a loyalty program using a points system. Each time a customer buys a product, they receive a calculated number of points. The points translate into money off a total purchase.
Customers are incentivized to continue buying from Target to earn more points and get discounts on their purchases. Some companies even offer a free reward after reaching a certain number of points.
Other generous benefits that make customers feel appreciated include:
- Cashback rewards
- Exclusive promotions
- Welcome and birthday freebies
- Early access to sales
Ultimately, loyalty programs assist with customer retention. Keeping buyers informed about new products and promotions stimulates greater customer engagement.
You may wonder: Is generating a customer loyalty program cost-effective in the long run?
The answer is YES.
It’s 5 to 25 times more expensive to gain new customers, rather than retaining existing customers, so start working on that program.
After taking notes and researching these branding examples, you can achieve better brand loyalty by:
- Providing excellent, accessible customer service
- Adding corporate social responsibility to your business strategy
- Sharing positive consumer experiences on product review sites and social media
- Incentivizing loyalty through rewards programs
By following these four easy steps, you’re sure to promote loyalty towards your brand in 2021.
Kelly Jacobson contributed to this blog.