“Build your brand.” How many times have you heard those words? It’s become fashionable to talk about creating a positive brand image. The problem is this: Too many business owners think about their brand in a surface-level way.
Building your brand isn’t only about coming across as friendly or socially conscious so that you can convince prospects to buy from you. Quite the contrary: The process requires a more thoughtful approach and should include a deeper value system that drives all company decisions.
Let’s discuss how you can create a meaningful brand image that, in turn, drives customer loyalty.
What Is brand loyalty?
You’ve achieved brand loyalty when customers choose to remain your customer as opposed to using competitor products or services.
The following factors come into play when customers stay with brands for the long term:
- Company reputation
- Company mission and values
- Customer experience
It’s all about customer retention, which includes your ability to make sure customers decide to keep buying from you. The process revolves around increasing the lifetime value of your customers so that you’re not solely dependent on converting new leads into sales.
The importance of brand loyalty
Consider this—there are two main ways to makes sales:
- Excellent marketing
- Excellent product
When using great marketing, you’ll generate new leads, create a relationship with those prospects and then sell your product. This is the way to begin your business. It gets everything off the ground and makes money.
One challenge with this is that the process comes crashing down around you if you let your foot off the gas for any length of time.
You haven’t had the chance to make your product great and people aren’t recommending your product to others yet. The business needs more marketing to keep the machine in motion.
On the other hand, if you have an excellent product that does this:
- Solves a big problem
- Blows customers away with amazing results
Then, your customers become loyal and stay with you for years.
Not only that, but they begin telling everyone they know about you and help drive sales that have nothing to do with traditional marketing channels like search engine optimization, social media or paid ads.
The best way to build your business is to combine marketing with solid customer loyalty. According to a study done by Invespcro.com, it requires five times more in marketing dollars to gain a new customer than to serve an existing, loyal customer.
This same study also found that repeat customers spend 31 percent more with your business than a brand new prospect. It’s obvious that creating brand loyalty has a direct impact on revenue.
The role of values when seeking customer loyalty
The first step is identifying your brand values. Gain an understanding about developing brand values by reviewing personal values.
Values are beliefs that typically spur you into action because they represent emotions, as opposed to ideas. Values are the standards by which you view the world.
Brand values work in the same way and determine what your company will and won’t do as it goes about its business activities.
Here’s how brand values function:
- Define your company’s behavior
- Help your business relate to a socially-diverse client base
- Guide decision making
Most importantly, you’ll engage on a far deeper level with customers when your brand values connect well with your audience.
If you relate to customers on an emotional level, then you’re instilling respect throughout each interaction and purchase. Customers feel safe doing business with you.
The bottom line? Customers who respect what your company stands for because it aligns with their own personal values willingly remain loyal and will continue purchasing from you far into the future.
Types of brand values
Many types of brand values exist. While you’ll find three important brand values to consider below, 6Q details out 190 examples of companies using brand values here.
- Core values: This is part of what makes your brand unique. Core values play a large role in creating an emotional bond with customers because they’re values that you’ll never allow to be compromised.
- Accidental values: These values get added into the mix by employees and team leaders. They aren’t planned and strategized by you, but instead appear accidentally as your team buys into your overall brand values and vision.
- Aspirational values: These are the values your business strives to achieve in the future. You’ll often discover aspirational values as your company expands and attempts to reach, as well connect with, a broader audience.
How to create a powerful brand image
Identifying your brand values and building your brand identity from the inside out isn’t enough to create customer loyalty. The next step is showing customers that you’re focused on doing what’s necessary to earn their repeat business.
When Toll Free Forwarding conducted a survey of 2,000 American adults, they discovered the following factors to be important to customer loyalty:
- Increased value (help your customers get more for their money)
- Corporate social responsibility
- Consistent quality
- Personal attention, such as get well or birthday cards
Behaving in these ways shows customers that you’re a brand that’s focused on doing what’s best for them. A deeper bond between your company and your customers results and you’ll start seeing more repeat business, as well as more referrals.
Here are 7 action steps that result in customer loyalty:
1. Pay attention to customer service
What you do after making the sale matters.
Set up your customer service flow so that you identify and handle customer challenges in the shortest time possible. For example, studies show that the average response time using a chat on your site is 2 minutes and 40 seconds which converts up to 40 percent more sales!
Simply responding to client needs in record time will often be enough to instill new-found trust with your company and foster further customer loyalty.
Send a gift if one of your customer service agents learns of a customer’s family struggle or illness. Offer extra discounts or a refund when the situation calls for it.
If you make it easy for your customers to get their problems handled, then they’ll understand that it’s safe to continue doing business with you. Using the right help desk tool to keep in touch with your customers is always a great help.
2. Use social media effectively
Build customer loyalty on social media by being quick to respond. Consider that 7 out of 10 millennials report that they’re more loyal to brands that quickly respond to their needs on social media.
Fifteen percent of Twitter users say they’ll unfollow you and your brand if you don’t engage with them enough. If they’re unfollowing you on Twitter, then that means they’re not feeling good about buying from you repeatedly.
What does that mean? Your business has to constantly interact with your audience whether it’s through “liking” posts, commenting, or sharing.
You can even use LinkedIn for lead generation, given the fact that it’s literally a platform meant for businesses and jobs. When you share a new post, potential customers will probably give you a thumbs up. Wouldn’t a good idea be to hit them up and ask for their feedback etc.?
If you’re afraid you don’t have the bandwidth or skillset to properly handle your brand’s social media presence, consider posting a freelance job in order to find someone to support you in your social media efforts. The cost to hire remote work is particularly low and ROI positive in today’s global economy.
3. Share customer content
Create brand loyalty by sharing user-generated content on your social media platforms.
Find videos, pics, infographics and other types of content that your customers share about your brand and then re-post. Ask your audience to tag your company and use those hashtags to continue discovering more user-generated content over time.
This strategy fosters trust because the positive content doesn’t come from your marketing team.
Instead, you’re including brand ambassadors in the equation. The result is more loyalty and repeat purchases as people keep coming back to share in the experience.
4. Use consistency to your advantage
Loyal customers become attracted to brands that provide a consistent experience no matter how many times they engage with those companies.
Work hard to maintain consistency with your:
- Marketing messages
- Logo and brand colors
- Customer service experiences
5. Share positive customer stories
Don’t keep glowing customer reviews hidden. Get permission to share that feedback and then post it loudly and proudly across social media, inside your email newsletter and on your website.
This type of social proof isn’t only useful when it comes to generating brand new sales. In fact, online reviews impact the buying decisions of 88 percent of consumers. When current customers see a positive review, it reinforces why they love your brand and they continue to buy your product.
6. Take customers behind the scenes
Nothing makes a customer feel like buying from you was the right decision more than seeing positive behind-the-scenes activities. Keep your customers in the loop at all times about what’s going on inside the company.
Customers prefer brands that remain open, transparent and honest. Post “fly on the wall” videos of company meetings, employee interviews, company events and videos or pictures of your office space.
It provides your audience a peek into what’s happening behind the scenes and shows how transparent you are all at the same time.
7. Keep brand values out in the open
We discussed how to develop your brand values above. Share your values openly with customers. The people within your audience that share those same values will become your most loyal brand ambassadors.
Not only will they buy repeatedly from you, but they’ll bring your brand more business than extensive ad creation or spend as they talk independently about your values, consistency and amazing customer support.
Now it’s your turn
Are you ready to begin building customer loyalty by working hard on your brand image? Keep this in mind: Build your brand’s image in a genuine way at all times because people pick up on anything that doesn’t sound honest.
If you focus on brand values that are authentic and don’t appear to be in place just because you think that’s what people want to hear, then your audience will respect you, talk positively about your company and loyally buy from you for years to come.