What Is Brand Loyalty? Definition, Examples & More
Brand loyalty is when a customer continues to purchase from your company, not because you’re the only option, but because they trust your company.
In the age of online commerce where Amazon sets the bar, anyone can import products from countries all around the globe and slap a brand name on them – diluting the authenticity of the original brand in the process. On the other hand, there are brands with cult-like followings they’ve amassed over the years.
So what does it take to build brand loyalty? Keep reading to find out.
Why People Leave Brands
Growing up, we all identified with some brand or another. As a toddler, it was whatever our family bought us. Maybe that was Oshkosh B’gosh clothes or a toy from Mattel like Hot Wheels or Barbie. As a teenager, it was what our friends were into… and either what we could afford, what was handed down, or what family and friends bought for us. As an adult, it’s whatever we want… or can afford.
We tend to grow out of brands, not just because of our age but for other reasons, too. Maybe you want to try something new, or what you’re wearing is suddenly out of style. Maybe you had a negative store experience, or a brand just stopped meeting your needs.
Back when I purchased a specific brand of jeans, I could walk into the store, grab the exact style, pay, and leave without trying them on. They always fit. For some reason, they stopped selling my style, and that’s when I moved to another brand.
The Importance of Storytelling for Brand Loyalty
“And even though Pixar is the most technologically advanced studio in the world, John has a saying that’s really stuck, which is no amount of technology will turn a bad story into a good story.” – Steve Jobs
There’s a reason literature from thousands of years ago is still read to this day – “The Iliad,” “The Odyssey,” ”Beowulf,” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knights,” continue to be popular tales. They’re riveting stories, a narrative woven to ignite your imagination.
Research shows a story activates feeling. Specific words such as “soap,” “cinnamon,” or “coffee” activate areas of the brain that deal with smells.
The brain doesn’t see much of a difference between a real-life experience or reading about an experience… the same regions of the brain are stimulated.
Stories connect us, yet many companies share boring stories that don’t attract anyone. How many times have you heard something like the following example: We’re the best maker of widgets and there’s no one better than us.
Your story should be powerful. Think of the Silicon Valley company that started in a garage, overthrew the CEO, only to watch their company tank until the former CEO came back to save the company. That’s a powerful story!
What’s the reason for your business? Why do you exist? How was it created? If you don’t have a story, Donald Miller shares how you can craft a message to resonate with your audience in his book “Storybrand”.
“You can’t tell a good story without conflict – the story can’t be beautiful or meaningful. We’re taught to run from conflict, and it’s robbing us of some really good stories.” – Donald Miller
Examples of Exceptional Brand Loyalty
The drink known as Krating Daeng was introduced in 1976 in Thailand as an energy booster for low-income earners. While traveling in Thailand, an Austrian marketer fell in love with the drink and formed a partnership to sell it abroad.
The drink became Red Bull, and although much of the original ingredients were untouched, carbonation was added. Instead of targeting low-income earners, the new company found its success in the emerging energy drink market. Red Bull continues to dominate the market to this day.
Instead of wasting hours looking for shoes, going store to store trying to find a specific color and size, Zappos created a website to help you find any shoe. A novel idea in 1999, over the years they’ve added handbags, accessories, and clothing to their inventory. What hasn’t changed is what they’re best known for – their customer service.
For example, there’s the story of Sarah. Her child’s sandal strap broke so she contacted customer service for a replacement. Zappos overnighted a new pair of sandals, but they accidentally sent the wrong pair. When they found out, the brand overnighted the correct pair and told Sarah not to send the sandals back but donate them to charity.
In an effort to earn some extra cash for their soaring rent in San Francisco, Airbnb founders started a site called Air Bed n Breakfast. They laid down air mattresses in their apartment and offered people a place to sleep, along with breakfast, for $80 a night. Airbnb now has more than 2 million listings in 190 countries.
Founded in 1976, Costco opened its first store in an airplane hanger full of discounted products to serve small businesses. They soon opened their doors to everyone who wanted to be a member… and it took off. Their philosophy is to keep costs low and pass the savings to members.
Imagine picking up a hitchhiker who not only becomes an instant connection, but also the co-founder of your company. That’s what happened to Burt, a local “bee man,” who pulled over to pick up a hitchhiker, Roxanne Quimby. Burt had been stowing away his surplus beeswax and Roxanne was able to turn it into useful products.
The Secret Sauce to Building Brand Loyalty
To create brand loyalty there are a few things your company must get right in order to win trust and keep customers coming back.
Project the Right Image
You want to make certain your company projects an image that aligns with your vision and values. The clientele for a Chevy Impala owner vs a Rolls Royce Phantom owner is vastly different. Both cars will enable the owners to arrive safely to their destination in relative comfort, but only one embodies craftsmanship, luxury, and refinement at a high price point.
From a personal brand, James Altucher is about as authentic as they come. He talks about his struggle with depression, bankruptcy, how investors got the best of him, and the pain of divorce. He doesn’t sugar coat life. He is authentic and people gravitate towards him.
“Transparency starts as a mindset change.” – Kevan Lee, Content Crafter, Buffer
Everlane is a lower cost high-quality clothing company that cuts out the middleman, and partners with ethical factories around the world, including one in Los Angeles.
I found out about them years ago when someone said Everlane has $15 t-shirts (now $18) with the same quality as $50 t-shirts from a high-end store.
Everlane is so transparent they show what it costs to make a product, their markup, and their competitor’s price.
Buffer, a social media management platform, has a company-wide transparency policy. You can view their editorial board, upcoming articles, the price breakdown of where the money goes after a customer pays, and even the salaries of all team members.
Creating brand loyalty isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. But if your brand is unique, transparent, authentic… all this adds up to creating a loyal customer base.
Competitors are just around the corner. It’s why it’s most important to set your company apart from the competition and share your compelling story.
To maintain, reward, and retain loyal customers, the fastest approach you can take is to set up a loyalty program with the Emarsys Loyalty module. You’ll have access to pre-built tactics you can use right way to reward your loyal customers.
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About the Author
Brandon is Marketing Content Manager at Emarsys. He is a results-driven marketer with experience in B2B and B2C where he has generated profitable growth by acquiring leads and converting them to clients.
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