You don’t have to be McDonald’s or Amazon to foster cult-like brand loyalty for your brand.
If you always make a beeline for name brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Oatly and Skyr when shopping for groceries, then you know firsthand how powerful brand loyalty is. The same is true if there’s a shop you always go to, even if it’s farther or more expensive than other options.
This is the dream for every business: to have branding so influential that customers don’t even think to look for an alternative. Luckily, brand loyalty isn’t as much a matter of luck as it is savvy brand management. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of brand loyalty and the tactics you can use to generate it.
Use Wix to design a website that keeps brand loyalists in the fold.
- What is brand loyalty?
- What’s the difference between brand loyalty and customer loyalty?
- How does brand loyalty work?
- Why is brand loyalty important?
- How to cultivate brand loyalty
- 4 examples of brand loyalty
What is brand loyalty?
Brand loyalty is a customer’s dedication to a particular company. They buy its products or services over and over again, even when other options are available. It’s very difficult for companies to lure loyalists away from the brands they love and trust, which is why brand loyalty is such a powerful business driver.
What’s the difference between brand loyalty and customer loyalty?
Although the terms “brand loyalty” and “customer loyalty” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to understand the distinction between the two. Customer loyalty refers to the tendency of a customer to commit to a brand because of inherent benefits, such as pricing, rewards and convenience. In contrast, brand loyalty stems from a customer connecting with a brand’s identity on a deeper level.
Because customer loyalty relies on factors like price or convenience, it can quickly wane if the brand becomes more expensive or less available. Brand loyalty, on the other hand, can withstand such variations as long as the brand’s identity and values remain unchanged. Therefore, building brand loyalty is crucial for companies—even those with strong customer loyalty—to maintain a loyal customer base in the long term.
How does brand loyalty work?
Suzy walks into a drugstore in search of Advil for pain relief. Even after the clerk mentions that generic brands contain the same active ingredients, she still purchases Advil. Suzy has used it for years, so she knows it works and doesn’t care how much it costs.
That’s brand loyalty in action. Devoted customers will go out of their way to find the brands they prefer, regardless of whether it’s the more inconvenient or costly option. This doesn’t just happen after one purchase. Your customers have to go through various stages before they become loyal customers:
- Brand recognition: At this stage, the customer is aware of your brand and can recognize its logo, name or packaging. The customer may not have any specific feelings toward your brand yet, but they’re familiar with it and have some basic knowledge of what it represents. Customers may not buy anything from you at this stage, but are much more likely to remember your brand in the future.
- Brand preference: Once a customer has tried your brand and realizes its value, they’ll begin to form an attachment. The customer may associate your brand with good experiences related to your product, customer service or marketing. During this stage, customers may make multiple purchases over time. That’s when customer loyalty begins to form.
- Brand insistence: At this stage, the customer has become loyal to your brand and insists on buying your products over other options. The customer has likely grown an emotional attachment to your brand and may be willing to pay a premium price to continue using it.
- Brand advocacy: Brand advocacy is the final stage in which your avid customers start to recommend your brand to others. In order to get them to this point, you’ll need strong branding, sales and marketing strategies that keep your customers engaged.
Why is brand loyalty important?
Brand loyalty is important because it can help you build stable profit margins, establish a positive brand reputation and maintain a competitive edge in the market. Let’s discuss a few of the main benefits of brand loyalty in detail:
- Differentiate from competitors: In a crowded market, where competing brands offer similar products or services, it can be difficult to differentiate and stand out. However, a strong base of loyal customers can help your brand differentiate itself from competitors and create a unique identity. In a market where there are many new entrants, having a loyal customer base can help a brand maintain its position and reputation.
- Make more revenue: According to a 2020 report on the state of brand loyalty, 56% of brand loyalists would spend more money on their favorite brands even if cheaper options were made available. But that’s not the only reason why your brand will make more money—another is that retention marketing is much easier and more affordable than acquisition marketing. Because loyal customers are ride-or-die fans, some of the money you’d otherwise pour into reaching new customers can be invested in developing relationships with loyal ones.
- Higher quality of referrals: Word-of-mouth marketing can be very effective, as it involves customers sharing their positive experiences and recommendations about a brand with others. In fact, consulting firm McKinsey & Company says word-of-mouth marketing accounts for 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions. That’s because referrals that come from people we know are seen as more trustworthy than other types of referral sources.
- More successful product launches: Whether your business launches a new location, service, product or something else, you want to ensure that they’re just as successful as what made your brand so popular in the first place. Whereas customer loyalty might not extend to other locations, services or products, customers with brand loyalty will get excited every time a new offering becomes available.
- Higher resiliency: As no business can be perfect or exist in a vacuum, it is crucial to invest time and effort in cultivating brand loyalty from the beginning. Doing so will help make the business more resilient and better equipped to handle any challenges that may arise.
How to cultivate brand loyalty
There are a number of things you can do to generate brand loyalty.
- Develop a memorable brand identity
- Keep things consistent
- Create an engaging marketing strategy
- Provide top-notch customer service
- Build a community
01. Develop a memorable brand identity
The brand loyalty survey we discussed earlier found that 84.3% of customers are more loyal to brands with values that align with their own. It’s therefore crucial to develop a memorable brand identity that reflects your company’s values, personality and unique selling proposition. However, this doesn’t mean you should glom onto whatever you think your customers are interested in—they’ll see right through that.
Instead, identify what drove you to start the business in the first place. What drives you to do things differently? Highlight your values across your website, ads and other marketing assets so that customers who share those values can find you.
02. Keep things consistent
When customers know exactly what to expect from your brand, they are more likely to develop a deep attachment to it. Therefore, keeping your quality brand identity and customer experience consistent can encourage brand loyalists to commit to your brand for the long-term.
Think about a brand like McDonald’s. Whether you’re visiting a McDonald’s down the street or in a different country, you know that you can expect a similar experience every time because of the consistency with which the company applies its brand.
03. Create an engaging marketing strategy
While creating a cool video or quirky slogan are important for generating brand recognition, you’ll need a more developed marketing strategy to push your customers into brand devotion territory.
Instead of solely focusing on selling your product, your marketing efforts should be tailored towards creating a meaningful connection with your customers. This connection can be achieved through personalized interactions, consistent engagement and a genuine interest in your customers’ needs and interests.
Burger King’s Twitter account, for example, has garnered 2 million followers by actively responding to customers on social media and inviting conversation. In doing so, they’ve managed to build a community of devoted followers.
04. Provide top-notch customer service
Customers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to return to your brand and recommend it to others. However, creating a positive customer experience involves training customer service representatives to be friendly, knowledgeable and responsive to customer needs.
Train your team to resolve issues quickly and effectively, ensuring that customers feel heard and supported. Regularly ask for customer feedback and use it to guide your business decisions. Additionally, respond to positive reviews and show your appreciation.
Ultimately, the goal of customer service is to make every customer feel like a VIP. By prioritizing their needs, you can more easily build lasting relationships and foster a sense of loyalty that goes beyond simply meeting a customer’s basic requirements.
05. Build a community
Creating a community for your customers on your website and encouraging them to become brand ambassadors is a powerful way to amplify the support for your brand. This approach can foster deeper engagement, cultivate brand advocacy and help you source user-generated content for your marketing campaigns. By enabling customers to connect with one another and share their positive experiences with your brand, you can create a network effect that can significantly boost your brand’s reach and influence.
A brand loyalty community can take many forms, such as online forums, social media groups or membership programs. Offering exclusive benefits or rewards will encourage people to join and inviting participation and feedback will keep them engaged. Overall, providing customers a platform to connect and share their experiences can create a sense of belonging and foster a stronger relationship between your brand and its customers.
Add a member’s area to your Wix website so you can offer brand loyalists rewards and a way to connect with fellow fans of your brand.
4 examples of brand loyalty
In addition to the examples of brand loyalty strategies previously discussed, these examples can help spark some ideas.
As opposed to many clothing brands, Columbia Sportswear never really focused on being a trendy company. Instead, it leverages its authenticity and grit to connect with customers who appreciate their built-tough clothing and equipment.
“At the core, a brand’s relevance is founded on how its products or services perform for its customers,” former CEO and current chairman of the board Gert Boyle told CNBC. “Styles change and activities go through cycles of popularity, but as long as we keep improving our products in ways that help people enjoy the outdoors longer, we’ll remain relevant to consumers of all ages.”
By focusing on what really matters to their customers, Columbia Sportswear has cultivated a loyal following. This, in turn, has helped the company weather changing trends and market conditions, making it a resilient and successful brand in the outdoor apparel industry.
Because community is a central tenet of the CrossFit business model, the fitness company has had great success cultivating brand loyalty. The workout is traditionally done as a group and CrossFit gyms often host events and competitions to bring members together. Some even do community outreach to help members feel more connected to their community.
The company’s online presence also helps to foster brand loyalty. It provides online forums for members to connect and discuss, and its social media accounts inspire them to stay committed to the program. With all these brand loyalty initiatives, it’s no surprise to see it explode in popularity and devotion the way it has.
Trader Joe’s excels in cultivating brand loyalty by prioritizing customer experience. With bright signage, unique product displays and product tastings, its grocery stores are a fun, engaging place to shop. The company puts a special focus on hiring and training to ensure that all their employees are welcoming, friendly and helpful.
Trader Joe’s keeps its brand identity consistent online. It uses whimsical graphics, a warm tone of voice and numerous resources to help customers become more familiar with its products. By prioritizing customer satisfaction and creating a unique brand experience, Trader Joe’s has established itself as a beloved and trusted grocery store among its loyal customer base.
Despite the fact that Chipotle has weathered multiple food contamination crises, the fast-casual restaurant chain remains strong to this day. How’d they do it? By developing a robust brand loyalty strategy. Thanks to its strong branding, loyalty program and responsible business practices, the chain managed to maintain its dedicated following and survive the bad publicity.
By Emily Shwake
Wix Blog Editor