By Felicia Guthrie
It’s February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a day filled with love, but how can small businesses inspire brand love and loyalty?
A brand’s ability to stand out by elevating experiences, creating emotional connections and offering greater utility helps drive brand loyalty and love. As a small business, here’s what you can do to inspire loyalty.
#1: Know Who You Are & Who Your Audience Is
We often come back to this, knowing who you are (and who your audience is) is the foundation of any campaign and strategy. When you know your brand and your audience, you begin to understand what’s important to them. By understanding what’s important to your business and audience, you can build campaigns that better capture their attention… and their hearts.
As a small brand, be sure to listen to your customers’ concerns and compliments. You can offer surveys, a place for feedback (ie. On your website), or even hold small focus groups. Listen to how consumers use your products, what positive or negative associations they have with your brand, what they love and dislike, these can all lead to important insights that you can center future marketing strategies on.
In 2014, feminine hygiene brand Always, launched their #LikeAGirl campaign – a great example of a brand knowing their audience and speaking to them. Always wanted to build a more meaningful connection and bond with young women who were becoming first time consumers at one of the most challenging times in their life – puberty. This is a time when their confidence is at an all-time low. They wanted to empower girls and young women to challenge themselves and do things #LikeAGirl.
Always captured a social experiment on video that captured how people of all ages interpreted the phrase “like a girl”. Girls and young women internalized the phrase as a sign of weakness and Always wanted to shift this into feelings of empowerment. The video and social media hashtag #LikeAGirl that followed the campaign, demonstrated that with encouragement, girls could do amazing things, and that doing something #LikeAGirl could be something to be proud of.
After watching the video 76% of girls aged 16-24 felt a positive association with the phrase “like a girl”, which was an increase from only 19% who felt positively towards the phrase prior to watching the ad. Two out of Three men who watched, also said they’d think twice about using the term as an insult. With one important insight that helped Always understand their consumers, the brand encouraged change. The brands equity also showed a strong double-digit percentage increase during the course of the campaign while most of its competitors saw slight declines.
#2: Share Your Values
As consumers, brands that share our values resonate with us. Taking a stand helps build a stronger, more authentic connection between consumers and brands. According to the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand report titled “Brands Take a Stand,” 64% of consumers worldwide are “belief driven buyers.” These consumers believe that supporting certain brands is a great way to express their beliefs. In 2018, two thirds of your audience were likely belief driven buyers and would choose, switch, avoid, and boycott a brand based on societal issues. Edelman found that 56% of consumers feel that marketers spend too much time trying to push them to buy and not enough time thinking about grabbing attention.
As a brand, taking a stand begins with understanding your own purpose and how you fit within the greater issues of society. These issues could be community or city-based, or they could be national or global. Be sure to focus on something that is authentic to your brand and to those who make up your audience.
In late 2018, Nike dropped their 30th anniversary ad on YouTube which featured a handful of athletes including former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The decision to include Kaepernick in the ad was a controversial one. He has become a polarizing figure known as both an athlete and social activist. Kaepernick inspired fellow athletes to kneel, rather than stand, during the national anthem, boycotting the use of police brutality in America. His choices, and in turn the campaign, were seen by some as a symbol of disrespect to the flag and servicemen and women, while many others supported Kaepernick and Nike’s decision to include him. The ad encouraged consumers to “Believe in something. Even if it means losing everything. Just do it.” Within only the first few days following the ad, Nike saw a 31% sales increase.
While it was a controversial choice, the decision to align themselves with Colin Kaepernick, made an important statement culturally and politically, resonating with young people and those who are socially conscious.
#3: Engage Your Audience
Consumers want to feel like brands understand them, these are the brands we support AND we voice our support for – and word of mouth is great free advertising. Take the time to listen to and reply to your audience to foster stronger relationships.
Some ways that you can engage with your audience include:
- Replying to and liking comments
- Start and participate in conversations (for example on Twitter or Facebook)
- Reshare user generated content (with permission)
- Addressing complaints
- Answering questions
Searching hashtags is another way for a brand to observe what consumers are saying about them. This can help brands understand what consumers like and dislike about the brand and services/products.
GoPro is a great example of audience engagement through user generated content. Their ads, social media posts, and campaigns often feature user generated content. This enables passionate consumers to become advocates for the brand and shows what the product/brand offers. This approach often works well with fashion and beauty brands, who can reshare customers confidently wearing their clothing, accessories, and cosmetics. User generated contented shows other potential consumers what you offer while also showing appreciation for your current customers.
Ask yourself, what is your business doing to inspire brand love today and what can you do tomorrow? Having trouble connecting with your audience in the right ways? Call us to help you build a great strategy.