Brand Loyalty: Moving Beyond Content

This post is the fifth in a series focused on customer communications in the digital era

We’ve talked about some really great topics throughout this series – building personal connections, customer decision making, earned mediasocial media and brand communities. And an underlying theme throughout all of this, really, is the impact of emotions on loyalty and consumer-brand relationships.

Starbucks is a great example of this in action. I recently noticed the sign in the photo below, which is simply a great case of a Fortune 500 company making an effort to connect with consumers. When I mentioned this during a meeting, someone spoke up and said that he was recently traveling abroad and, after just two days, the Starbucks staff recognized him and called him by name. The Starbucks culture makes customers feel welcome and, clearly, Starbucks recognizes the importance of emotion in developing lifetime relationships with their customers.

In this vein, emotions can’t just be evoked by a set of business rules; they must be embedded into the organization’s culture like Starbucks does. To me, the benefits of emotions on brand loyalty seem quite obvious in that a positive brand interaction experience will most likely lead to repeat purchases and recommendations. But sitting at the heart of these emotional connections is content.

If you think about the relationship between an organization and the consumer, the role of marketing is to connect with the audience. This is done by providing information that’s of interest – in other words, content. But effective customer communications goes beyond simply good content and ensures the whole experience is positive by also focusing on how the message is actually delivered.

Most organizations work hard at getting to know the customer and determining what offers are relevant, but what we don’t really think about is how best to deliver that message. For instance, my eyesight’s not that great, so when I receive digital messages I like to read them a different way (i.e. bigger font) than the way my children prefer to read them. This is the whole basis behind a responsive website, for example, which identifies the device you’re using and presents content based on what’s best for it. So, if you’re on a MacBook, the content looks a different way than if you were using a Smartphone or a PC.

This responsiveness and customization is key – this is the how of delivery and goes hand in hand with a positive experience. In this way, customer insight is going beyond only sending the right message, but also now the way it is portrayed. With each message tailored to its audience, organizations are one step closer to evoking positive brand emotions and, in return, greater brand loyalty. 

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