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10 Ways to Build a Brand that Inspires Customer Loyalty

10 Ways to Build a Brand that Inspires Customer Loyalty.jpgAt the top of every small business owner's "to-do" list should be a task aimed at building customer loyalty. Repeat purchases are a key driver of small business success for a number of reasons, most importantly because it costs a lot less to keep a current customer than it does to find a new one. Companies that are able to build strong brands reap the benefits of customer loyalty and in turn, profits. The problem, however, is that few small business owners understand how to build a brand that inspires customer loyalty. 

The most important characteristics regarding a brand's long-term market success will vary depending on your specific business, industry, the markets you target, and so on. To get you started however, here are 10 ways to build a brand that inspires customer loyalty — the kind of which other companies may only dream.

Deliver Benefits that Customers Value

First and foremost, you need to understand who your ideal customers are and ensure you're building a brand that aligns with their wants and needs. By either creating a product with attributes the customer deems as valuable, establishing an admirable brand image, providing a superior service, or offering an exceptional product, you create an engaging customer experience that the buyer will come back for, time and time again. As an example, Starbucks and Nordstrom provide in-store retail experiences that appeal to customers' senses: pleasing scents, orderly product displays, attractive artwork and decor, contemporary background music, and cozy furnishings and dressing rooms.

Maintain Brand Relevance

Relevance is all about your target audience. One of the most important parts of managing a brand is keeping up to date with current market trends. This could be as simple as updating your brand imagery or it could be related to other factors such as the personality that your brand portrays (for example, exciting or sophisticated) and the way it affects the customer, like making them feel energized or secure. In order to maintain customer loyalty, small businesses must produce desirable products and adjust the intangible elements of their brands over time to suit the current climate.

Use Price to Influence Brand Perception

Price is one of the biggest contributors to a customer's perception of your product value. Having a strong brand can influences price perception because the way a business portrays itself impacts how likely customers will be to purchase their products. Prices should reflect the customer's perceived value of your product's quality, design features, and cost. Many companies have used strong brands to justify their pricing. For instance, Singapore Airlines, Rolex, and Haagen-Dazs are premium brands whose quality justifies luxury or premium product prices.

Differentiate Yourself from Competitors

When well positioned, your brand occupies a specific niche in your customer's mind. You can inspire a loyal following by creating a unique brand that differentiates you from your competition in the marketplace. The Walt Disney Company is a great example of a company that has used differentiation to gain a competitive advantage and has a huge loyal fan base. Make sure your unique point of view comes across in every marketing communication you create and every customer interaction you have. 

Convey a Consistent Brand Image Over Time

Companies that maintain strong brands balance the need to remain relevant with continuity in marketing activities to consistently convey the brands' image. For example, Gillette produces technologically-advanced razor blades, which it promotes with it's successful, long-running "The best a man can get" ad campaign. While the messages are consistent, the images are tweaked over time to reflect current trends and product improvements. As a result, loyal customers will always know what to expect from you.

Illustration showing how segmentation can help to build a brand that inspires customer loyaltyAddress Different Market Segments 

Many companies create and maintain unique brands for different market segments. For instance, whereas a company might sell a single product line under a unique brand name, a company-wide brand might serve as a brand umbrella. Take the General Motors brand portfolio, for example. It consists of the top-of-the-line Cadillac brand, the premium Buick brand, the performance-oriented Pontiac and the value-priced Chevrolet.

This corporate approach can also be used successfully in a small business setting. Market segments can be defined by a number of things, for example, demographics, geographies, buyer behavior, or psychographics. By addressing each of these target markets differently, you can personalize your product message to resonate with each group, helping to generate trust and loyalty within each segment.

Ensure All Marketing Activities Communicate Brand Value

Customers are much more likely to purchase from (and become loyal to) a company that shares their values. Having clearly defined brand values that are apparent in all of your communications helps customers to understand the issues that matter to you most, keeps them coming back for more, and increases the likelihood that they will become your brand advocates.

No business is too small to have their values defined. Ask yourself, "What are my core values? Why do I do what I do?".  The popularity of the TOMS shoe company, who give a pair of shoes to a needy person in the world for each purchase, demonstrates the awesome power of having clearly defined brand values.

Venn diagram showing brand perception as overlap between brand promise and brand experienceMaintain Brand Awareness 

Even after establishing a positive image for your brand, you have to maintain brand awareness in order to drive customer loyalty. That requires consistent marketing efforts on an ongoing basis. This can be challenging for small businesses, though it doesn't have to be. Having a repeatable campaign process and using tools can make even the smallest of teams very effective.

Preserve Brand Equity

Brand audits, focus groups, and customer surveys conducted on a periodic basis will allow you to keep track of your brand's health. Doing so will ensure that you have brand recognition among your target audience and are still relevant to your customers. It will also alert you to any changes that are necessary.

Social media is a cost-effective way for small businesses to keep tabs on their brand equity. Using social media monitoring you can stay in-tune with your customers to know what they're saying about your brand and industry online and in real-time.

Reward Brand Loyalty 

Reward programs are a no-brainer when it comes to enticing repeat purchases from your customers. Not only do they encourage repeat business, they can also be used to encourage referrals. 

Loyalty reward apps are one of the best ways for small businesses to set up customer loyalty programs. As an example, you c offer discounts, coupons, points, or free products or services to customers who meet certain requirements. 

The customer ultimately determines the power of your brand in your chosen markets, however brand equity is the result of the investment you make in the brand. Your marketing efforts influence what consumers feel, believe, recall, and think about your brand. When properly designed, marketing efforts are good investments. But when poorly designed or implemented, those efforts can detract from brand equity.

These 10 methods will support your efforts to build a strong brand and engender high levels of customer loyalty. However, building a brand that inspires customer loyalty is just the start to growing your business. You can make a large-scale impact even with the smallest of teams. We encourage you to download our ebook: “How to Run a Successful Campaign with a Small Marketing Team” and then connect with us for a conversation on how to get bigger results from your small marketing team.

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