Earning the adoration of customers is undoubtedly something every entrepreneur wishes for her business. Yet knowing how to win this brand love is something that remains a mystery for many.
Brands like Starbucks, Nike, and Apple seemed to have cracked the code. One read through their Facebook or Twitter pages and you’ll quickly pick up the enthusiasm of their fans and advocates.
What’s their secret? These businesses know that customer loyalty is built not on their products only but rather on the emotional connections they create with their customers. They don’t seek to market to their customers but rather build relationships with them.
When it comes to cultivating customer loyalty for their own brands , entrepreneurs can take a note from their book. Here are four proven strategies that will help founders and their teams grow love for their brands.
1. Tell Your Brand’s Story
Your brand story tells customers not only what you do but more importantly why you do it.
Storytelling is a part of human nature. We’re curious. We like to know the history and reason for things. Revealing the journey you took to start your business gives your customers a peek behind the curtain. This transparency allows them to connect with you in a more meaningful way. When you connect in this way, your customers will in turn be more likely to want to follow, work with, and buy from you.
There are three things to know about writing your brand story. First, a great story will cover your who, what, why, and how. Second, it will take your audience on a journey that has a beginning, middle, and end. Third, it’s written for your audience. Use words they’ll understand and use in their own conversations. Moreover, think about what parts of your story will connect with them and get them to care about what you do.
How are you sharing your brand’s story? It can be a page on your website, a written document shared with press releases, or brought to life through branded content. The founders of AirBnb often share their story when speaking at events. Burt’s Bees, on the other hand, shares their story through their videos on their YouTube channel. Think about how you might be able to weave your own story into the ways you connect with your customers.
2. Know What You Stand For
Your brand’s equity is how your brand is held in the hearts and minds of consumers. It is the perception and beliefs that extend beyond the products and services that you sell.
Love for a brand can’t flourish if customers don’t know what you stand for. When customers know what to expect from your brand, you’re better positioned to win their trust and loyalty.
A simple brand equity can be constructed from four core elements. The first element is the unique points of difference you offer over others or the things that set your brand apart. Second are the functional benefits or tangible results you help people achieve that improve their lives. Building on that are the emotional benefits you offer or how you make people feel. Last is your brand character created from the tone of voice you use and the way in which your brand behaves. Every action you take or piece of content you create will either add to or take away from the equity you wish to create.
If you haven’t yet, go through the practice of formalizing your brand’s equity. Brands often document theirs by structuring the elements into a pyramid or similar framework. This formal document will become a guiding post for everyone on your team when deciding whether something is right for your brand.
3. Show up Consistently
Millions of brands exist in the world. For yours to stand out and be remembered by consumers, it must be recognizable. This means showing up in the same way across every consumer touch point you create.
A brand style guide will help establish the look and feel of your brand and will allow you to show up consistently to consumers. Your guide will define your brand’s color palette, fonts, visual style, logos, and iconography. It serves as a reference point for anyone creating content on your brand’s behalf whether that content is a blog post or piece of advertising. Together, these elements paint your brand’s picture and help build its equity.
Is your team using a brand style guide? These can be digital, but printed versions are also often created. Make sure you not only have one created but that everyone on your team has a copy.
4. Create a Brand Language
A brand language is how you speak with your community. It’s an element of your brand’s equity and particularly brings to life your tone of voice.
Words are a powerful way to bring your brand’s character to life. They emote the personality you wish to convey and establish the relationship you have with your customers. Beyond that, a shared language is one of the strongest ways to build community among your followers.
Your brand language is made up of several building blocks starting with your brand and product names. The sayings and tag lines you use are a second building block. These are more than just slogans and should bring to life who you are and why you do what you do. A third building block is the social hashtags that you use. These will be adopted by your followers and can help your conversations become sticky.
Create your brand language with intention. Think about the way other brands use language to create community. Document the language your brand uses and brainstorm words and phrases that might make strong additions.
5. Put It in Action
How you’re building your brand is a critical piece of your business’ strategy. Not only does it play a critical role in your marketing but can also inform your approach to product, partnerships, and sales. Set aside time with your team to make sure you have these brand elements in place and are using them to spark your customers’ brand love.
About the Author
Jennifer Hacker is the owner of Toast Meets Jam, a website where she shares the advice and inspiration she learns during interviews with women entrepreneurs.