Have you ever wondered how Coke became so synonymous with cola, Hoover with vacuuming, or Google with searching the internet?
“Emotional connectivity,” says former Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts. “You want loyalty beyond reason and loyalty beyond recession.”
Emotional connectivity that becomes brand loyalty is what a true customer brand experience is all about. For every business seeking to thrive and create a lasting impact, emotional connectivity needs to be a mission-critical constant in their branding equation. Nowadays, customers no longer spend their money as a result of what they see and hear about brands; rather, they value brand and customer experience. Advertisers and brand managers are shifting their focus from creating simple brand messages towards building a lasting brand-customer relationship. Customers now equate brands with experiences, and they are willing to pay premium prices for excellent customer service and an outstanding retail experience. A single negative experience or unresolved issue is enough to make a client give up on a brand. Worse: a negative experience can easily become a negative review, and this can spread quicker than a wink online, thanks to social media and online review sites.
It’s vital for companies to connect with their customers on a deeper and more satisfying level – through positive customer experience. Here are five ways brands can create worthwhile and memorable customer experiences:
Make the brand stand out – in a good way
To customers, the uniqueness of a brand is what makes it stand out. The easiest way to do this is to create a memorable brand name. For instance, affixing the lowercase ‘i’ to its product offerings – like the iPhone, iMac, and iPad – has made each item a very recognizable Apple product.
Of course, Apple did not stop at brand recollection value; that alone would hardly make a customer use and keep using a new product or service. What makes the brand experience a meaningful one is when people use a product or service – and enjoy every minute of it.
In a fast-changing digital environment where each subsequent product tends to get more and more complicated, Apple went back to basics; the company decided to simplify everything. Apple built its brand by focusing not only on the features of each product but also on sleek and simple aesthetics – attributes that seemed like an afterthought to competitors. The strategy clearly worked; Apple has created a satisfactory customer experience that has morphed into a huge loyal brand following.
Adapt to the changing times
Staying current is a must for every brand that wants to endure over time. In the fast-paced Internet Age, doing so can be challenging, as evidenced by the many brands that have crashed and burned over the last few decades, like social media platform Friendster and mega-bookstore Borders. It seems like any brand that fails to stay relevant is signing its own death warrant.
Many businesses are finding ways to adapt to the changing times through social media, which has become an avenue for consistent, direct, and meaningful customer interaction. It provides tremendous insight into customer needs, wants, behavior, and engagement.
These days, having a website and a mobile app is pretty much non-negotiable, too. They provide information to consumers and help them not only to make informed purchasing decisions but also to resolve issues that could have a significant impact on how they perceive a brand.
Connect with customers on a personal level
A personal touch can go a long way in strengthening a business’s branding. Gone are the days when one size fits all; customers now favor brands that offer and provide them with tailored experiences. ‘Tailoring’ can be as easy as having the customer’s name in an email newsletter. A ‘Dear Joe’, as opposed to a ‘Dear valued customer’, can be interpreted as solid customer engagement. Personalized email messages, in fact, increase their click-through rates by an average of 14%, according to a 2015 report by the Aberdeen Group. Conversion rates also increase by 10%. Furthermore, research by Experian has revealed that personalized emails increase transaction rate by up to six times.
Brands’ efforts to personalize their connection with their customers clear demonstrate gratitude and appreciation for their clients’ continuing patronage – and the gratitude and appreciation are reciprocal.
Brand transparency has become a way of humanizing the business and showcasing a company’s positive corporate values. According to a study by Label Insight, brand transparency is the best way to build consumer trust, with more than half of the respondents saying that they would be loyal to a company if it showed itself to be fully transparent. An excellent example of such a marketing campaign is McDonald’s Canada’s ‘Our Food, Your Questions’ campaign. Trying to dispel misinformation and urban myths surrounding its food and ingredients, the fast food giant saw an opportunity to educate its consumers and still stand behind its products. The campaign has garnered over 42,000 questions since its launch in 2014. Even though it is widely known that McDonald’s is not the best choice when it comes to healthy eating, the campaign has satisfied its customers’ need to know everything about a product – no skeletons in the closet.
Consistency is key
Finally, the key to creating a brand that resonates with customers is consistency. This means keeping the brand in sync with its strategies so that every product and/or service always points back to the brand—distinctly and directly. Coca-Cola is considered to be one of the most widely recognized brands in the world. Although it continues to evolve, its classic script and font can be identified anywhere in the world, even when displayed in different languages. Consistent branding eliminates confusion and shapes how people perceive the business.
Consistency is also important when it comes to messaging; it should always be in keeping with a brand’s mission and values.
For instance, clothing company Patagonia has always been clear about its mission to inspire social change and protect the environment by advocating sustainability. It launched a Fair Trade campaign that led people to be more mindful of how their clothes were being manufactured, thereby leading to a stronger demand for products coming from Fair Trade Certified factories that pay higher wages to workers.
Ultimately, bridging the gap between brand and customers boils down to creating memorable customer experiences. Sure, the brand message is still important, but customers become more invested in a company when it walks its talk and prioritizes customer wellbeing and satisfaction above all else. An outstanding customer experience is by far the best way to encourage the type of brand loyalty that transcends both reason and recession.