Image by TerryJohnston via Flickr

Brand loyalty is nothing new, but we usually think of Coca-Cola or Nike. Huge global behemoths that consumers ask for by name and wear proudly on their heads, lips, body and feet.

But online marketing has changed the way brand loyalty is acquired and earned.  With the explosion of social media, businesses are making a solid attempt to be honest and open in their marketing communications. This plays to the strength of the small or medium business (SMB) since SMBs don’t have the deep pockets for huge marketing spends and agencies leading the social media charge. We do it ourselves and we’re the most knowledgeable and open about our products and companies.

When you’re open and honest with your consumer, the side effect can be the creation of trust, brand loyalty and even brand advocacy. And these non-transactional communication efforts are highly linked to purchase behaviors. So, whatever your business metrics, time spent on brand loyalty is time well spent.

Is Brand Loyalty Achievable?

If you abide by the American Marketing Association, brand loyalty is the situation in which a consumer generally buys the same manufacturer-originated product or service repeatedly over time rather than buying from multiple suppliers within the category. To me, if you’ve got people tattooing your logo on their backside, you’ve got brand loyalty.

While you might think large companies own the domain of brand loyalty, it’s not true. This has been studied on a global level where multinational companies don’t necessarily rule in every market. There’s strength for the local brands – the home-field advantage. And local brands that market themselves successfully remain formidable adversaries in those markets. (For extra credit, read: The Myth of the Invincible Global Brand)

The Internet is like having that home-field advantage. As an SMB, you are an expert in your category. When it comes to your web site, your industry and your community – you have a powerful starting point to build your brand loyalty.

Trust as a Part of Brand Loyalty

Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc, makes a pitch that brand trust makes a high contribution to category engagement, loyalty, and profitability – even more than how good the product is. If a brand doesn’t really stand for anything beyond category efficacy, then the consumer is going to find alternatives.

Building trust is important, but once you’ve earned it, you need to make sure you keep it. The open communication you start, the transparency you exhibit and the trust you build are not a one-time thing. They’re an ongoing effort.

Browser Themes Build Loyalty and Trust Through Engagement

Consistent and open communication is a great target, but in the world offering torrents of information from social news feeds, mobile apps, TV, radio and more, what do you do? Engagement with the brand is your ultimate goal. It will ensure your brands survival and outreach of all kinds — conversations, experiences, advertising, and every touch point possible and imagined are required.

Among these channels, the browser theme ranks high in terms of presence, impact and length of exposure. Every hour spent on the Internet builds that connection between you and your consumer. It’s not seconds on a web page, or moments in an app that is soon forgotten and buried several menus deep on a three-inch screen. You gain a real footprint into daily activity and enjoy the benefits of that engagement.

With the growth of web-based social networks and a desire for transparency, trust and peace-of-mind messages, it shouldn’t be surprising that relationships now form a cornerstone of marketing efforts. When you leverage the browser theme to build relationships with consumers, you’re creating brand loyalists that drive word-of-mouth marketing, brand advocacy and brand guardianship.

Brand Thunder’s BT:Engage, a build your own browser theme wizard, will ensure your business has an easy to use tool for your ongoing brand loyalty efforts.

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