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Brand Loyalty – What It Is And How To Get It

It’s what every business craves. Devoted customers that come back for more of your offerings, again and again. Like Harley-Davidson customers who won’t ride any other make of motorcycle. Like Apple customers who clamor to line up for the latest iPhone. Like Nike “sneakerheads” who collect and trade the shoes, unworn, still in the box. You too can have a client or customer base like this. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. First, you have to know your brand promise. Then, you have to make your brand promise. Finally, you have to keep your brand promise. That’s it! Easy, right? Of course not. It’s easy to say, not so easy to actually do. All three of these tasks are devilishly complex and require dedicated professionals to do them correctly. The irony is, most mature businesses are perfectly well set up to accomplish tasks two and three. It’s the first task that trips them up. They don’t spend enough time thinking about what their brand promise ought to be. As a result, they end up making the wrong brand promise and they stick to it for years – all the time wondering why their customers don’t show them any loyalty.

Step One – Know your brand promise

Most businesses get started with no brand strategy whatsoever. The entrepreneur has an idea or has the notion that they can do a thing better, faster or cheaper than anyone else. The entrepreneur comes up with an app or a widget or something and just assumes there is a market for it. They are convinced the world will beat a path to their door. 90 percent of the time, more or less, they are wrong about that and the businesses fail. But a few of them are right about their idea and their businesses succeed – up to a point. Brand loyalty still eludes them. Why?

The entrepreneur turned out to be right. Their idea was better. So that’s the way they marketed it, as “better”. They go to market claiming only that they’re a “better”solution. That’s the mistake. It’s a claim that is not distinguishing or even differentiating. The competition also touts their offerings as “better”. When brand promises are all alike, the customer gets no emotional benefit from selecting one brand over another. Thus the lack of brand loyalty.

Let Boardwalk guide you to a brand strategy 
that cultivates devoted customers.

The entrepreneur should be marketing the emotional benefit the customer will enjoy when purchasing their app. We wrote at some length about emotional benefit in our April 27, 2020 Brandtalk. To learn what this emotional benefit is likely to be, the entrepreneur has to do a deep dive into his customers’ needs. Very few startups ever bother to dive deep enough. They may do some research to find out more about what the customer needs in their app. But they don’t dig deeper to find out what makes the customer tick. What makes them happy? How do they feel when purchasing and when using the app? What role does this app play in their lives?

So they go on and on – business as usual – insisting their app is “better”. And they can’t ever seem to get repeat customers.

Step Two – Make your brand promise

This is marketing communication in all its forms. And, as mentioned above, most mature businesses are pretty good at it. Maybe they aren’t budgeting enough but they know how to allocate the budget they have. They maintain their website. They advertise. They retain a PR firm. They have a booth at the trade show. They get the word out there. But none of it really excites the market because, all this time, they’ve making the wrong brand promise. They’re still just “better” – like everyone else.

Step Three – Keep your brand promise

This is management doing its damn best to make sure its app really is better than the next guy’s. This is running the company at a profit. This is keeping the employees happy and productive. This is delivering on time. This is providing stellar customer support. This is doing all the things most businesses are doing every day. But, again, the wrong brand promise burdens them. They’re good but they’ll never be great. Their customers will never actually care about them the way customers feel about Harley-Davidson, Apple or Nike. They won’t be loyal because the business doesn’t mean anything to them.

Strategy. Marketing. Operations. It takes the entire business, working in common cause, to build brand loyalty. A business has to make the right brand promise to the right market. It has to communicate that promise effectively. And it has to deliver on it. If you get the first step wrong, it doesn’t matter how good you are at steps two and three. You’ll never get from good to great. 

Your brand is your relationship with the market. Repeat the above three steps consistently, over time, and the market will come back to you again and again. I’ve been in the room when a business leader suddenly sees the true emotional benefit their product offers the market. You can practically see the light bulb go off over their head. They suddenly know what their brand promise ought to be. They regain the enthusiasm they had when they started the company. They change their brand strategy. They make a new brand promise. They build a true relationship with their market and watch as their customers become more and more devoted to the brand.

BEST BRANDING READS – WEEK OF JUNE 1, 2020

Empathy Emerges As The New Marketing
You don’t have to read this article. The important, true insight is in the headline.

The Power of Data Visualization in Finding Insights
Humans get more understanding from seeing pictures than from reading numbers.

Brands Without Meaning Are No Longer Essential
So true! What does your brand mean to your market?

1,200 Post-It Notes to Fix a Broken Brand Culture
Using the rose-bud-thorn game to define and shape a culture.

2020 Logo Trend Report
Don’t let your new logo fall into one of these clichés.

New Logo and Identity for Popeyes
I order Popeye’s every week just to admire their packaging. Mmm.

The Local Versus Global Marketing Debate
It’s a tie. Sort of. It depends. Still, this is the best article on this subject I’ve ever read. Or is it?

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Best Branding Reads
Week of July 6, 2020

Values, Brand, and Culture — Your Strongest Competitive Advantage
An interesting take on building brands and shaping cultures.

Why Old Has The Advantage Over New
In many ways, we might all really want to go back to the old normal, not the new.

The Critical Link Between Marketing And Finance
Turns out both disciplines are about the same thing.

Employer Branding in the Face of a Crisis
Some really great examples of best and worst practices.

New Logo and Identity for Waze
A good redesign to integrate brand experience across social media platforms.

New Logo and Identity for Iceland National Football Team
Really, really love this logo … and the meaning behind it. Applications are all terrific too.

Images that Move — Using Video to Communicate Brand Story
Some good how-to pointers in this story.