Building Brand Loyalty - Part 4: Strategic and Tactical Examples

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Posted Dec 12, 2011
Susan Gunelius

So far in the Building Brand Loyalty series, you've learned what brand loyalty is, why it matters to your business, how to build it, and how to keep it. In the final part of the series, you learn about strategic and tactical examples that you can use to build brand loyalty with your customers.

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brand loyalty

If you've ever joined a membership or rewards program, then you've identified yourself as a loyal customer. The extent of that loyalty varies from brand-to-brand and customer-to-customer, but by joining a program that rewards repeat purchasers, you've expressed some degree of loyalty to the brand.

The trick for marketers is to deepen the relationship, strengthen the emotional connection, and increase the perceived switching costs among its audience of repeat purchasers. That's how you move re-purchasers to loyalists. There are many ways to do it, and some examples are included below to help you get started.

Rewards Programs

Rewards programs are great for encouraging customers to repurchase a brand, but they're not always appropriate for deepening the level of brand loyalty that consumers feel toward a brand. That's because they're very short-term focused. Rather than rewarding loyal consumers for their emotional connections to the brand, they reward members for purchasing.

The trick in creating a rewards program that actually deepens loyalty is to offer specific rewards to true brand loyalists above and beyond the rewards used to encourage repurchasing.

Switching Costs

What tangible and intangible value does your brand provide to consumers? What is the emotional, physical, and financial cost of that value? In other words, what would consumers feel like they have to give up if they switch from your brand to a competitor's brand? It's that real and perceived switching cost that is the essence of brand loyalty.

Conduct research to identify what those switching costs are and create marketing campaigns that highlight those costs in order to increase loyalty to your brand even more. You want loyal consumers to feel like that switching cost is insurmountable. However, don't create monetary switching costs that trap consumers into doing business with you.

For example, the high switching costs charged to switch from one cellular carrier to another are perceived as a negative and a trap by consumers, not a benefit. You want to create positive perceived switching costs based on emotional connections and value, not penalties.

verizon wireless

Brand Experiences

Surround consumers with branded experiences so they can self-select how they want to interact with your brand and deepen their emotional connections to it. Social media offers an incredible opportunity to create branded experiences through content, conversations, and communities.

For example, there are online communities for Ford Mustang owners, Harley Davidson owners, Mini Cooper owners, Bentley owners, and more! Each of these brands demonstrates how branded communities (created by the company or by consumers) should be encouraged. They're a perfect place for people to share branded experiences, which leads to deeper brand relationships.

Think about the many ways you can use content across the social web to created branded experiences. YouTube channels, Facebook Pages, blogs, and more can all become branded online destinations where consumers can interact with your brand. The trick is to provide valuable content that is meaningful to your target consumers.

Furthermore, you can create offline branded experiences. Whether you offer seminars, host an event, or attend a trade show, you have opportunities to deepen consumers' relationships with your brand which leads to brand loyalty.

Brand Extensions and Expansion

Remember, consumers are constantly changing, so your brand strategy needs to be flexible enough to evolve with your customers and the market. Just be careful and make sure that any extensions and expansions you pursue are consistent with your brand promise and will appropriately fit with consumers' perceptions and expectations for the brand.

The last thing you want to do is confuse or alienate your brand loyalists. It's harder and more expensive to get new customers than it is to keep existing customers, so don't turn your back on your loyal audience.

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