Tag Archives: brands

12 Ways To Stay Popular In The Brand Loyalty World.

brand loyalty-forever-oc&k

There seems to be a lot of debate in recent times about loyalty towards brands. Have a look at this U.S. research, undertaken earlier this year, which outlines a gradual decline over the years. Needless to say that we business people, all strive to have loyal customers because usually, they buy more and refer more. So how do we address the problem of decline?

In our opinion, there have been two developments that businesses need to accept in this digital age. Firstly, that technology has raised the customer’s expectation of a two-way street with regard to loyalty. Reciprocal loyalty is becoming the norm not the exception. Secondly, it should be appreciated that loyalty is about emotions in the first instance and behaviour in the second.

Often, businesses use loyalty programmes to measure success, which are based on behaviour. The trouble is that these can’t measure any emotional factor involved. And we know that it is the emotions that drive the purchase decision and repeat business.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that I, as a consumer, consider loyalty programmes to be a reward for my loyalty. I’m sure there are marketing directors out there that think the opposite.

We outline some tips below that might help address the emotional side of a customer’s loyalty to your brand. At this point, though, we would like to make the distinction between brand loyalty and customer loyalty.

Brand Loyalty vs Customer Loyalty.

In our minds, brand loyalty is where customers return to buy the same product but will also try other products/services proffered, because of their positive experience.

Customer loyalty, on the other hand, is achieved through special offers, rebates and other incentives to increase the volume/frequency of purchases. This usually equates to an increase in footfall but also to short-term profitability.

Perhaps a simpler way of distinguishing these terms is that customers who are brand loyal are loyal to you, the business. Those in loyalty programmes are loyal to their own wallet.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with the latter, from a sustainable business point of view, brand loyalty is usually the better of the two.

It is, of course, perfectly acceptable to concentrate on both, but in the absence of brand loyalty – competitors such as a low-cost producer can easily attract your wallet loyal customers.

For the purpose of this post – we are going to talk about brand loyalty. The research, mentioned above, inferred that in this connected world, brands have the increasingly difficult challenge of changing from broadcasting messages to building relationships.

More than ever, people have many options and many ways of connecting with brands. As a method of choosing one over the other, they seem to be siding with companies that share their own beliefs and/or priorities. Accordingly, it really is imperative that businesses communicate their own brand values to an audience that shows an affiliation to same.

As the socio-economic environment continues to evolve, it appears that sustainable business will be built on brands that provide meaning to customers. Here’s the hard (?) bit – brands have to genuinely like their customers i.e. treat them as humans rather than wallets.

Why does this seem to be so difficult? We think it is because 1) not only does there have to be a change in the business mindset but 2) brands have to ensure that they can connect wherever, whenever and however their customers want to and 3) do so in a relevant way.

As a result, marketing must move away from asking, ‘what will our company say to our customers’ – and get to, ‘what is our company to customers.’

Some people think brand loyalty is for suckers.

We could not write this post about brand loyalty without reference to lifehacker.com’s great read – ‘Brand Loyalty is for Suckers’. In it they discuss headings such as:

Brand Loyalty Locks You Into Willful, Lazy Monopolies

Brand Loyalty Encourages Fan Worship

Brand Loyalty Makes Products Worse

Brand Loyalty Uses You as a Weapon and Encourages Blind Consumption

It really is well worth a read and poses food for thought on the subject. In this post, however, we are approaching the topic from a business point of view. And as such, we believe that to succeed, brands must strive to be ‘more popular’ and relevant than their competitors. In the next section, we outline some ways that we think might help better your company’s popularity in the brand loyalty world, but not to make suckers out of customers.

Tips and Timesavers.

We can safely assume that all marketers, and indeed business people, will accept that it’s more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones. In both instances, however, the earlier you start to work on earning their loyalty, the better.

Such loyalty can often manifest itself through a gratitude and appreciation of what a company stands for.

What can you do to earn this gratitude?

  1. Live your values to the full and communicate them.
  2. Over-deliver on customer experience and use testimonials / social proof.
  3. Create a community of like-minded people and help them as an expert.
  4. Offer incentives but don’t forget your existing customers.
  5. Admit your mistakes.
  6. Get personal and stay in touch – remind them of the value you offer.
  7. Create something that they want to be a part of – inspire them to live a better life.
  8. Have the right employees (fully trained etc.).
  9. Ask customers for their feedback (especially after a sale).
  10. Be reliable and make their life easier by anticipating their problems.
  11. Make it easy for them to communicate with you / a real person.
  12. Remember it’s the little things that matter – surprise them.


Most businesses would believe that brand loyalty is something that happens after you acquire a new customer. The reality is beginning to show that people are aligning themselves with brand values rather than products/services.

Surely, therefore, it makes sense to address this in advance. As a start-up business, you should know your brand values. Thereafter, communicating these values at every brand touch-point will facilitate such activity as referral marketing programmes. This activity can do a lot of the spadework in advance of the actual prospect conversion activity.

There are many tools and channels available for brands to engage and create positive experiences (e.g.social media, networking, traditional marketing). There should be no excuses for not making prospects and existing customers feel connected to your company.

The real challenge going forward is to be authentic when demonstrating that you have their best interests at heart. Loyalty IS a two-way street.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

Warning: To be human is to love a good story.


“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

10 steps to start telling your story right now.

Why do businesses and so many marketers continue to ignore the fact that customers are human and like a good story?

Do you think I’m stretching it a little when I suggest that your customers, or prospects (people), want to see, hear and understand the real you?  They want to know your story. I don’t believe that they want to hear you broadcast how good you are or how much they need your product / service. Do you know why? Because you are not talking to them in a natural way and they see no value for themselves, in your corporate blurb.

I alluded to this in a previous post, but I believe that it is worth reiterating here. Treating people as humans is a business requirement and not just a casual option. In fact have you noticed that your colleagues, your employees and even your online followers are all human also? Not only that, but they all have one other thing in common, they want brands to relate to them in an interesting way that brings them benefit.

The way that businesses can do this is quite simple to understand but a little bit harder to put in place. Our tips and timesavers below will outline some ways that you can start to make your brand more human with storytelling.

Once upon a time ……

It is true that for brands to break through the ‘noise’ today, they need to be more interesting and relevant. I read recently that ‘friend of mine’ awareness is replacing the traditional marketing measurement of ‘top of mind’ awareness. This reinforces the power of word-of-mouth and also the way that purchasing decisions are being influenced. A friend’s advice is an emotional one and usually acted upon. So if brands are to make any inroads into building relationships with customers, they must connect with people in the way that a friend might – through emotion.

The main way of doing this is by telling a story.

‘Once upon a time ….’ is one of the most emotionally charged string of words, ever. From when we were babies, we always tuned into what comes next after those magical words. Brands have to start telling and stop selling. People in general want to know more about you but will only listen if it is interesting and relevant, to them. How to achieve this from a business point of view, is by revealing a story theme within the guidelines of a clear communication strategy.

Think about it, a brand is really an amalgamation of stories anyway. The ideal would be for you to pull these stories together into a theme and proactively manage them. Of course, if you don’t tell your story, others will and it may not be a positive version.

Topics you could source internally might include:

  • the added value offered by your brand,
  • various audience experiences,
  • your employees,
  • the rationale behind your identity and your image,
  • what others say about you.

In fact, why not allow your stories ‘fit in’ with those of other people. Even better – become a hub for the sharing of ideas and conversations. Give people a face, a voice, a platform to be heard.

When discussing this point with some of O’C&K’s clients, they often say “but we don’t have a story to tell, that’s why we advertise”. Our answer is that every brand has a specific story to tell which should be told because it is the one thing that your competitors cannot replicate. And from a sales point of view, people connect with stories not products.

For instance, the original iPhone was sold as a life changer about how people could connect rather than a pocket computer. What Apple Inc. did was to make the customer (you and me) the hero of their story. Whatever you might think of Apple they definitely changed our lives with the smartphone.

If you decide to start telling your story however, it must be your authentic story. Not some aspirational place where you want to be. Let people know who you are – across all communication, online and offline. Be consistent and constantly thinking about ways that you can add value to your customers.

Brands that I am interested in are ones that I learn from, I laugh with or I love what they do for others. Of course business values are great but I find that they are all similar – have a look at a company’s values page on the next few websites that you visit and you’ll see what I mean.

To me, it’s kind of obvious that businesses need to connect more with people through personal values which means getting emotional, however strange that may sound. I guess social media can help us in this regard. It gives us the opportunity to talk directly to, or listen to, customers. Even a simple ‘thank you’ on twitter can go a long way. As I have always said to sponsees – ‘try to over- deliver on a personal level with a sponsor’. In that way renewal of a sponsorship contract is more probable, nine times out of ten. It’s all about the personal touch.

Tips and Timesavers.

The real trick here is not to focus on your own story, your own campaign, new services or your achievements. Talk about why people’s lives will be improved as you strive to achieve your vision, not how you’re going about it. Tell stories that make people laugh, make them sad or make them mad.

Here are some tips to start you on your journey:

  • Brainstorm with your team. – It is important that you know who and what you are before you can start connecting with your audiences. What is your culture?
  • Determine your audience. –  ID, research and prioritise your top 2/3 audiences. What different requirements have they and what tactics are required for you to satisfy them.
  • Focus on the relationship that you want to build. –  Be a human and have a personality.
  • Don’t interrupt your audience. – Speak in their language and be part of their story.
  • Listen to their story and provide value. – Your story must be of benefit to them in some way.
  • Get your team to be social. – Everybody on your team is a potential curator of stories.
  • Get your audience on board. – By connecting with their emotions they will buy into your story.
  • Leverage different mediums. – Find out where your audiences are and go ‘play’ there.
  • Be human all the time. – Show pictures of you and your team – doing ordinary stuff.
  • Plan it. – Have an editorial calendar, a social media policy and measure impacts.

Telling your story – a science or an art?

If you don’t see yourself as a storyteller, an external professional can help you to encapsulate your company’s story. The downside of not doing this is that your communication with people is going to be unfocused and less effective. Also, don’t waste time trying to set-up multiple channels of communication because, once you have determined your audience, the channels will select themselves.

Adam Weinroth, CMO, OneSpot has provided us with an interesting infographic on the science of storytelling.

The human element of storytelling is to ensure that your team and your audience are sharing compelling content. If that content is aligned to your brand promise and vision, it will be relevant and useful to all parties.

By the way, don’t allow the thought of writing the content to put you off – you can outsource this element also. The important thing is that your internal team is operating like a newsroom and is focused on your communication strategies.

Having a human brand means that you keep in mind that your customers and employees are human too. Humans like stories and are always looking for value in them. That value may be educational, entertaining or simply an alignment with their beliefs. Go on, tell us, what’s your story?

If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K