Managing your brand’s relationship with its consumers, is similar to dating. According to leading relationship expert Helen Fisher, there are three stages of Love: lust, attraction and attachment.
The process often involves: identifying the prospect and strategy that will inspire desire and land you the first date (promotions and purchase), igniting a spark that inspires more dates (great product leads to repeat business) and being able to consistently deliver wonderful experiences (customer service) combined with welcomed unexpected events (product/service innovation), which will inspire attachment, moving the relationship to the next level of love (advocacy) and commitment (loyalty).
"What causes consumers to commit?"
Most people have at least one brand that they have remained loyal to over the years. But what causes a consumer to have brief flings with certain brands and long term relationships with others? How can a company create a strong intimate relationship with its consumers? As with a romantic relationship, the goal must be to keep the consumer feeling special and creating a lasting connection. Here are some steps you can take to get your consumers to fall in love with your brand:
#1 — Develop A Strong Brand Identity
Even without the words Chanel written under it, this logo is iconic and tells a consistent story of “luxury Parisian fashion”. However, the brand's identity extends beyond its logo. A key step to building a relationship, is knowing who you are and what you are bringing to it. Having a clear definition of what your brand is about and what it stands for, is what will set you apart and attract your ideal consumer to it. Everyone has a type and your consumers are the people who identify with your brand image and characteristics. From the physical attributes of your brand (logo, colours etc), design, quality, service delivery, location etc., are all characteristics that will tell the consumer: “this brand understands me, I can relate to it and I want to be associated with it.” I recently did a case study of a corporation and discovered that this company, though it had developed a very good brand architecture on paper, was not living its brand. Instead of focusing on its core values and unique selling proposition, it kept trying to keep up with its competition, by being reactive to their every campaign and product launch. Over time, its consumers when surveyed, felt less connected to this company, no longer understanding what they had to offer or what they stood for. This impacted the company’s performance and is a classic example of not standing for something and falling for everything.
When you know who you are (as person or company) and what makes you different from everyone else, you no longer have to exist in competition, but rather, on a constant quest to out do the current you. Your goal should be to offer a better product/service and experience to your consumer every time. Let’s face it, you can’t please everybody and shouldn’t try to. Its similar to romantic relationships, be clear about your prospect’s characteristics, uncover what appeals to them and find the match between them and your brand.
#2- Connect with your customers
Creating circumstances and events that give consumers something to talk about is very useful in this process. Three ways to get people talking and connected to your brand are: controversy (when well orchestrated), customer experience and innovation. These are some of the ingredients used by the world’s most iconic brands; Coco-Cola’s e.g. Coco Cola’s Super Bowl Ad 2014 (controversial and led to consumer comments like: “Our forefathers are rolling over in their graves.”),Four Seasons (known for great customer experience), Apple (for innovation). These brands are consistently in the news for something or on the cutting edge of new product development. They make it their business to track consumer trends, anticipate/create future demand and find ways to continuously satisfy it. Instead of just playing the game, they seek to change the game. Just when the consumer thought it was good, the company makes it better. This leads to strong advocacy e.g. the Maclovers blog, acquisition of new customers and retention of the existing tribe.
#3 - Consistency (Always Deliver)
Most romantic relationships end because of inconsistent or sudden changes in behavior. It is the same with consumers, your brand has to consistently deliver the same quality while continuously enhancing the experience.While reinvention is important, it should not dilute your brand, or alienate your target audience. Coco Cola has changed its logo several times over the years, but never to the point where consumers could no longer identify with its image.
The product has also remained consistent delivering variations to suit changing consumer trends e.g. Diet Coke. Remember, your consumers would have fallen in love with your core characteristics and this is what they want to continue to be in a relationship with. However, people are always growing and evolving and this is where innovation will help you keep satisfying them. The relationship will remain interesting if you keep adding value through service delivery and innovation to meet their changing lifestyle.
While there are other factors that impact on how consumers may fall and stay in love with a brand, the points discussed, play a key role in building your relationship with consumers.
In : Brand Development
Tags: customer engagment winning customers customer loyalty