Brand building and brand loyalty go hand in hand. While you’re doing one, you should also be doing the other. Both are essential for creating a brand while also sustaining it as you scale.
In this article, I’m going to dive into the key elements of brand building and brand loyalty. By the end, you’ll know how closely they intertwine and how to leverage them into a double-pronged digital marketing strategy.
But first, let’s get some basics out of the way.
What Is Brand Building?
Brand building is pretty straightforward. It’s the process of establishing your brand in the marketplace and making your target consumer demographic aware of your product or service.
This process can be accomplished in many different ways, including advertising campaigns, community outreach, and social media outreach. The point is to get your brand out there and build it up so that people recognize it and want to purchase from you.
That said, there’s a lot more to it than just driving up awareness. Awareness is critical, but what is it about your brand that makes customers decide to take the plunge and commit? When you’re building your brand, you have to also build the identity and the image that you want to present. You can’t just say, “Here we are!” You must say, “Here we are, and here’s why you should choose us over our competitors. Here’s what makes us worthy of your investment.”
In other words, you must build value into your branding. If you can build a brand that communicates a value that your target audience wants or needs, then you’re well on your way to generating your own base of customers.
What Is Brand Loyalty?
Building a brand that generates awareness and communicates value is great, but there’s something missing from this process. Even if you create a successful model for generating new customers, how are you going to go about keeping those customers so you can get the maximum return on investment (ROI) for your marketing efforts?
The answer is brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty occurs when you have customers that come back to your brand over and over. There’s usually a reason for this; it’s not arbitrary that they choose to make repeat purchases from you rather than buy from your competitors. Maybe you provide exceptional customer service, higher quality products, 24/7 support, or free shipping.
How do you create brand loyalty? You provide value, and you do it repeatedly: with every customer and every customer experience.
That’s why it’s important to think about this during your brand-building process. You need to build your brand as one that provides certain benefits that customers will want to experience again, and then incorporate that image into your marketing.
What happens when you don’t have brand loyalty? You’re going to lose customers, and you may even go out of business. Here’s why.
Let’s say you just fired up your new brand a few months ago. In the time you’ve been up and running, you’ve managed to have two wildly successful first quarters. People are interested in your product and they’re willing to buy it up.
But let’s also say that after purchasing your products, your customers become dissatisfied with your shipping time; you promised them 3-5 business days, and it’s taking over two weeks for them to receive their orders. They decide to try one of your competitors, who happens to offer fast and reliable free shipping. Now, you can no longer count them among your consumer base.
This happens repeatedly until you have none of your original customers. Now, you have to spend a lot of money on advertising to market to fresh audiences. Eventually, the pool of new customers is going to run out, and you’re going to be left holding the bag.
If you had brand loyalty, however, you would have had a base of customers providing a steady stream of revenue. (In fact, you’re 14 times more likely to sell to an existing customer than a brand-new one.) This would give you the wiggle room to build your brand even more and scale your business and gain more repeat customers. It’s a winning model. The other… not so much.
Building your brand and brand loyalty are two sides of the same coin. Together, they create a strong revenue stream. But building your brand without generating loyalty among your customers is a recipe for disaster.
5 Key Elements Of Brand Building And Brand Loyalty
Now that you know how important these two aspects of branding are for one another, I’m going to talk about the 5 key elements that they share.
A strong brand identity is important to any business. It is how you will present your company to the public, and it includes everything from the color scheme of your logo to your social media posts and customer service values.
Your brand identity must appeal to your target customer demographic. For example, if you are marketing your product toward teens and twenty-somethings, then you should create an identity and an aesthetic that matches current trends among the youth. This way, just at a glance, your target demographic can tell that your brand holds some interest and value to them.
Establishing your identity will not only make it easier for you to build your brand and increase awareness, but it will also help you plant the seeds of loyalty among your future customers. If they see your brand conduct itself in a positive, professional, and authentic manner, then they will be more likely to purchase from you – now and again in the future.
We’ve already talked about value to a certain degree. But the value of, well, value can’t be overstated. The benefits that you bring to the table could mean the difference between a consumer choosing you or your competitor.
When thinking about the value you provide as a brand, it’s helpful to develop a value proposition. This is a short statement, no more than two or three sentences long, that succinctly describes your brand and what you’re offering to your target demographic.
To build your brand, you must express your value proposition. That is, after all, what it’s for: to showcase to investors, customers, and other potential stakeholders to put money into your business. If you can tell – or better yet, show – people the benefits they would receive by using your product or hiring your services, you will be much more successful at building your brand for success.
Expressing and fulfilling your values is key to developing brand loyalty, as well. That’s one of the reasons why your customers bought from you in the first place, and they will continue to do so if you continue to provide the value they’ve come to expect.
When a consumer is looking for a new product or service to try, they are most often looking for a brand that is genuine and honest, provides the value they promised, and isn’t trying to screw them over for a quick buck.
In other words, the brand must be authentic.
Brand authenticity is closely tied to value, but it can be harder to establish. When you’re just building your brand, your new customers are taking a risk by purchasing from you. They don’t know for certain if you’re legitimate or if you’ll do what you said you’d do in your value proposition.
Fortunately, you have a few options open to you for building authenticity for your brand.
For example, you can offer free returns and/or refunds (companies that don’t offer either one or the other are usually suspicious; they may be offering an inferior product that they expect from the outset the customer will be dissatisfied with). You can also be transparent about where you source your products and the materials/ingredients they’re made from.
Having a review or feedback system in place (and not deleting any negative testimonials) is another great way to show consumers that you are genuine. You know you have a great product/service, and you have nothing to hide. It also shows you’re more willing to make it right if one of your customers has a bad experience.
Of course, the best thing you can do to establish your authenticity is to provide the product or service you promised you would at the beginning of the customer experience. If customers who purchase from you are satisfied that you fulfilled your promises, then they can reasonably expect you will do so again. Thus, they are more likely to be loyal and come back to you in the future.
Authenticity and value are important, but they don’t say anything about your brand’s level of expertise. Expertise is key for building both your brand and brand loyalty, as it shows consumers that you know what you’re doing.
Let’s say you start a brand that sells clothes. What do you know about making and selling high-quality clothes? You don’t necessarily have to know much, but you need to know the basics and the nitty-gritty, and you can let your target consumer base know that. They would expect to view you as the expert so that they feel confident in purchasing from you.
To establish expertise, you can use a number of strategies. If you have any experience in fashion design or sewing or anything related to that industry, you can include a statement about that in your marketing materials. If you personally don’t have any experience running a clothing brand, you can partner up with someone who does and emphasize their years of learning and expertise. You can also be transparent about where your products are made and what they’re made of, including the percentages of different fabrics.
By expressing and showing expertise, you’ll build a stronger, more legitimate brand that people will want to be loyal to because they know that you know what you’re doing. They know that they can expect the best. And who doesn’t want to buy the best?
Trust is the fifth and arguably the most important key element of brand building and brand loyalty. Not only will it serve you well in your early days, when you’re bringing in new customers, but later on, as well. Here’s how.
The ugly truth is that your brand is going to make mistakes. No matter how great your product or your customer service is, or how dependable your shipping partners are, errors will occur. It’s inevitable.
So, how do you prevent customers from leaving when something goes wrong, and your brand doesn’t live up to their expectations? The answer is trust. Your customers must trust that no matter what, you’re going to make their experience the best it can be.
If they receive a defective product after many previous purchases, they know they can send it back and get a refund or a free replacement. If shipping takes longer than you initially promised, they know that you will give them a discount for a future purchase. Those are just examples, but they amount to the same thing.
When you’re building your brand, if you integrate strategies into it that minimize risk and maximize value for your customers, you’re going to build trust. Trust will get people to buy from you for the first time and for many more times in the future, come what may.
Brand building goes hand in hand with brand loyalty. Without the former, you don’t have a brand, but without the latter, you only have a brand for a little while. Use the 5 key elements we discussed to develop an effective two-pronged marketing strategy that not only generates new customers for your growing business but also helps you keep them.
One of our latest ventures is a foray into the fintech/payment processing business. We have built slowly over the last several months three brands, each sort of competing with each other, vying for pole position. Throughout the rigmarole of daily interactions, rainmaking and operational activities is an underlying trust in-built into the brands and the folks involved: these guys have the balls to carry out what they say they will and to stand by it. They will NOT sleep until settlements/cash outs are done. If any adverse situation arises, these guys will fix it. Invariably. Amen.
Related Read: The Strategic Importance Of Brand Positioning
(This post is for my 12-year son Neil who requested it. Tried to customize it for you, bubba)