When you begin your business, you're most likely focused on starting to make and distribute your product or perform a service for customers--on doing the work.
You need certain things to get your business up and running, like business insurance. But brand loyalty deserves your attention, too. We'll cover why, despite the work entailed, brand loyalty is worth the investment--and how to approach it.
Brand loyalty and customer loyalty are often used as interchangeable terms but the reality is that they are two very different types of ways to interact with customers. While customer loyalty relates to the types of loyalty programs that result in discounts and savings for customers, brand loyalty extends to folks that may not even be customers yet.
Rather, brand loyalty is all about how customers (or potential future customers) perceive your brand and what it means to them.
How customers relate your brand to things in their personal lives has an impact on how they associate your business with specific feelings (i.e. positive or negative).
One thing is for sure--if you want to have some type of control over brand loyalty and how your customers perceive you, you've got to dedicate time to spend on your brand. Out of curiosity, I decided to ask my community (composed of many small business owners and freelance professionals) if they spend time on their brand.
About 76% said yes, they invested time in strategizing around their brand.
That's a good amount and while we don't have the details of all the specific businesses that responded to the survey, I can say that regardless of the type of business you have, the size, or how long you've been in business, the task of building brand loyalty can be intimidating.
But it doesn't have to be! Brand loyalty can be built in several different ways, over time.
Think about restaurants or fast food shops. If you saw a fast food place in the distance and the colors were red, orange, and yellow--what restaurant would you assume that is? What about blue and yellow?
If you read the above and thought of McDonald's, and then Burger King, then you caught on. These are brand associations, and both are needed to eventually earn brand loyalty.
You want to have a design that goes hand-in-hand with the type of feeling you want your brand to inspire in your customers. Maybe you're creating active gear for winter sports--you may want to choose a bright logo design that's simple to decipher and identify from a distance. Or maybe you're providing a service for someone who installs windows and doors for homes and businesses; you want a logo that lets folks who see it automatically think of you.
To go along with your memorable design should be an equally memorable tagline, or small saying that people associate with your brand. McDonald's has "I'm Lovin' It" for example; Dunkin Donuts has "America Runs on Dunkin."
Often times a tagline is used together with a logo, either on signage or on specific branded items, like stickers or your business cards. Even if you don't often utilize the tagline, it's good to have one in mind and on hand if the opportunity to use it comes up.
A great logo and tagline are helpful to have when building the foundation of your brand. Once you have those--how are you going to spread the word?
For many folks looking to hire new companies, a popular place to look now is online. Working on your online presence is a great way to build confidence in your company's authority and professionalism. You can do this by posting on either your website or social media often about your expertise and experience with customers.
Another helpful thing to post online is testimonials or stories that spotlight the work you've completed for past customers.
Of course, past customers are also most likely to tell people about you by word of mouth. This is why one of the best ways to get your brand known in your community, is to be active in your community in general.
This means attending anything from sporting or town events to offering to volunteer with specific organizations that may be interested in your product or services down the line.
Participating in happenings around the community will increase the community's recognition of your company's brand and ethos and help build trust in the long run.
People tend to respond to things that are known or that they're used to. Successful brands are consistent with their language usage and the design elements that are used in their products.
For example, you'll notice that almost all major brands typically utilize the same colors in their advertising and the same sorts of language. You'd never catch Converse using language that was overly wordy and complicated because their brand is simple, yet edgy; you'd never see Carhartt using language that seemed forced or convoluted, because the brand is known as straight forward.
When customers know what to expect from a brand, it makes an outcome predictable. And with so few things in life that we have control over or that we're able to predict, that's a satisfying turn of events. Even if folks aren't a customer of your company yet, if they see the same elements of your brand (design, language, types of events you support, etc,) used consistently, it'll be in your favor.
We saved the best--or most obvious--for last. Sure, you can be loyal to some brands because they're good quality, but in the end the best brands are also the ones that provide amazing service.
Maybe this means something small, like always wrapping your product up in a special manner for delivery--or maybe you're able to anticipate a customer's repeat order and fill it, so that by the time they call you, you're ready to help. Winning customer service is always going above and beyond for your customer, even if it's just a bit.
Sometimes though, things don't always go right with your customers. It's for times like these that you'll want to be sure to invest in business insurance. Mistakes happen and if something were to go wrong, then business insurance can ensure that everything is worked out for both parties. Not only does this protect your business, but it also protects your relationship with your customer, allowing your relationship to remain in good standing.
If your customers can tie the positive experience that they have with you back to your company's brand, then you've planted the seeds of brand loyalty. But just like a seed planted in an actual garden, it takes time for a seedling to sprout up through the dirt. By the time you see the fruits of your brand-labor, you'll have found a solid rhythm for building the foundation of your brand.
I’ve told stories since I learned to talk and written since I could hold a pen. As a small business owner myself - I'm a freelance writer and yoga teacher - I love contributing to the entrepreneurship community in different ways (including writing for Simply Business!). When I’m not drafting articles for SB, I can be found on my yoga mat, perusing an indie bookstore, and writing (with my cat nearby of course).
Allison writes on a number of topics such as small business leadership, business structures, and employee training.
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