Brand love is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. In fact, it’s such a favourite topic of mine, that I’ve declared February “Brand Love Month” here at Energise.
We’ve covered brand love a few times recently, if you missed my previous articles, you can catch up on the basics of brand love and some simple strategies to start your brand love journey. Also keep an eye out for my article on brand love in the upcoming issue of the EMA’s new digital BusinessPlus.
Today we’re covering a different aspect of brand love. There are 5 steps that you will travel through in your brand love journey. Here’s each step and some strategies to nurture your customer relationships at each stage.
Step 1 – Interest
Your customer is not necessarily aware of your brand and your offering. Your job is to catch their attention and stimulate interest. Firstly, you must complete your foundational brand work. You need to strategise on:
Once you know who you are and what you stand for you need to:
- Create a compelling brand identity. This should represent you and your product clearly and concisely.
- Get internal buy in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, brand love starts from the inside so it’s essential for all of your employees to be on board.
- Have a consistent brand. This needs to be across every customer touch point. This creates a professional image that stands out from your competitors
Step 2 – Familiarity
Now, consumers know your brand exists. But in their minds, there isn’t anything that makes you stand out and they’re not emotionally invested. There are several actions you can take to spark interest and firmly establish your brand with your customers:
- Do a competitor review. Analyse what your competitors do and work out how you can be better.
- Refine your brand. What can you do to reinforce your brand’s positioning? Or does your brand need a refresh?
- Engage influencers. With so much information available, most people do significant amounts of research before committing to a purchase. Positive reviews and recommendations from trusted sources are invaluable.
Step 3 – Well liked
This is the first sign of success. All of your hard work is starting to pay off. Customers know your brand meets their needs and are beginning to form a bond. This stage is critical as your position with your customers is still precarious. Now you need to dig in and deepen the connection.
- Make every purchase a positive brand experience. This is where your internal buy in will start paying off. Remember, happy, satisfied staff equals happy satisfied customers.
- Foster a brand community. Create a place where your fans can connect with your brand and each other.
Step 4 – Loved
Congratulations! You’ve managed to establish deep emotional connections with your customers. You’ve built a base of loyal fans who have incorporated your brand and products/services into their everyday lives. However, now is not the time to relax as all relationships go through rough patches. Your job is to keep the love alive and continue customer needs
- Keep innovating. Small tweaks to your products/services and brands will help maintain interest.
- Communicate regularly. Keep your customers updated on news including new products or initiatives. Behind the scenes peeks will help bring your brand to life, putting a human face to your business.
- Align with other brands or causes that reinforce your position. Today’s consumers don’t want to do business with brands that are only in it for the profit. They want to give their hard earned dollars to companies that align with their own personal values.
Step 5 – Beloved
Did you think you’d already reached the end of your brand love journey? Well, there’s one final step. Brands who make it to this stage are iconic in consumer’s minds. They are well known by casual customers and brand advocates alike. The big challenges here are keeping a 2-way communication open with your customers and continuing to evolve with changing market trends.
- Make use of your brand community. This is the perfect place to maintain a 2-way dialogue with your customers. Make sure they feel valued with surprise extras like advanced notice of sales or special gifts. You also need to ensure you respond to any queries or social media comments quickly – don’t leave your customers hanging.
- Stay up to date with market and consumer trends. You brand is not a static object, it’s a living breathing entity. To stay relevant and keep meeting your customer’s needs, your brand needs to keep changing and evolving.
Where are you in your brand love journey?
So there you have it, the 5 steps of the brand love journey. Which step have you made it to? Have you managed to create brand magic and achieve that elusive iconic status? Or have you stalled at one of the steps along the way?