Nourish longevity and loyalty with effective experiential principles.
Brand loyalty is defined in the simplest terms, by us, as “the behavior exhibited by Stakeholders who prefer your brand to any other, despite alternatives that might be cheaper, more convenient, or recognizable in terms of support, use + purchases, and/or advocacy.”
Several factors go into brand loyalty such as brand equity, awareness, and attributes which all have to be considered while building and nourishing brand loyalty within your brand experience. But again, at its simplest, brand loyalty is won or lost through a combination of emotional connection + fulfillment, great products + services, and top-notch & consistent brand experiences. Building brand loyalty requires consistency, end-to-end journeys and rewards but can be quickly lost through loss of reputational trust and the non-listening to your Stakeholders & their true identified needs.
Brand loyalty is when your Stakeholders have the opportunity, and good reason, to choose another brand yet they continue to choose yours.
Not to be confused with customer loyalty – even though brand loyalty and customer loyalty are often used interchangeably – they differ. Customer loyalty describes a commitment from customers to continue purchasing from or supporting you based on the benefits received from those actions. Loyal customers keep coming back because the product/service has some feature they like or they stand to gain something in terms of price and rewards – ie. reward programs and points – and yes, that is great for the bottom line. The challenge with customer loyalty is that customers can easily be swayed if a competitor comes with a similar product, service, or a new rewards program – they’ll be tempted to switch, because the loyalty is to the product/service/program only.
Brand loyalty refers to a higher-level, a more reputational and relational achievement than customer loyalty does.
Brand loyalty is a commitment from your Stakeholders to continue supporting you because of their experiences and perception of the brand.
That’s why those who are truly brand loyalists foster an emotional connection with your brand, rather than one just based on price or reward program like typical customer loyalty would. Brand Loyalty is more sustainable in the long run and much better for your brand health and return on experience.
Strategically infusing emotions + feelings.
Before diving into strategies, it's essential to further understand what loyalty is and why it happens. This is the first step into developing your experiential principles delivered through your brand’s experience, which nurtures brand loyalty.
The Psychological Triggers
Emotions play a critical role in shaping loyalty. When your Stakeholders connect emotionally with your brand, they're more likely to become loyal. This emotional connection will be shaped by various factors like personal identity, shared values, and trust.
Your Stakeholders will remember the feelings associated with your brand even if they do not remember your brand's name, advertisement, marketing campaign, product or service. That is why the intent is always to align with your Stakeholders core emotional needs. And identifying those needs is a process to be completed before tactical output – by understanding which emotions will most likely trigger their loyalty.
Strategically you’ll need to understand the subconscious mind and use its function to your advantage.
We, as humans, rely on cognitive shortcuts in our decision-making processes. Along with the decision-making process, our emotions and feelings are also stored within our subconscious minds. This combination shows up as favoring familiar brands and experiences with brands that you’ve had or preferring brands recommended by others subconsciously. This process is ingrained in our psyche and significantly influences loyalty.
The subconscious mind has to be seduced in order to produce loyalty. Loyalty as an emotion spans across several areas: trust, competency, reliability, transparency, and value. For this, it's extremely important to understand and establish your brand's emotions and feelings that you desire to evoke within your experience to nourish loyalty.
Strategically investing time and resources in understanding your Stakeholders, connecting with them emotionally, aligning with their values, leveraging cognitive processes, and understanding the psychology behind loyalty gives your experience a significant competitive advantage and increased return on experience.
Brand Loyalty as a ROX metric.
Brand loyalty is important as it drives growth – both in experience and revenue. True brand loyalty is the result of brand experiences that hit the mark consistently but never ‘solved’, yet an ongoing journey.
Along the journey, understanding and measuring Stakeholder brand loyalty allows your business to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth for your experience and its Stakeholders. For that, measuring loyalty extends further than the benefits of solely the return on investment (i.e revenue, dollars, etc.) but largely in return on experience.
Understanding how Stakeholders feel about your brand, products, or services is crucial to sustaining loyalty.
A key measurement metric we use to gauge brand loyalists is a Stakeholder Sentiment Analysis – in conjunction with standard B2B metrics such as net promoter score and churn.
Sentiment analysis is the process of detecting positive or negative sentiment. We primarily use it to detect sentiment in data, gauge brand reputation, and understand stakeholders emotions in regards to your brand experience.
There’s four types of sentiment analysis: Fine-Grained, Emotion-Detection, Aspect-Based, and Intent- Based through two methods: machine-learning and lexicon-based approaches. We focus on one primary type of sentiment – emotion-detection through a machine-learning approach – to dissect and define Stakeholder return on experience and loyalty.
Emotion detection uses more advanced machine learning techniques to analyze more complex emotions like fear, anger, sadness, love, frustration, or whichever designated emotions you’ve strategically evoked through your brand experience – rather than the other three sentiment analysis.
Although there are a few challenges to emotion detection – as it involves more resources and investments upfront–this method helps to measure the subtleties within an emotion and analyze the motives, behaviors, thoughts, feelings and impulses of Stakeholders – especially in regards to brand loyalty.
With that, an understanding of an emotional analysis is beneficial as it is more practical and effective to perform a sentiment analysis that is more in-depth to quantify return on experience.
Approach in Action.
Final thoughts surrounding brand loyalty typically conclude with a solution to create a loyalty rewards program as a way to build loyalty and increase revenue. And yes, that is a component to nurturing customer loyalty but certainly not enough for brand loyalty as stated earlier.
Building deeper brand loyalty extends beyond the loyalty program.
Let’s tie it all together and take a quick look at Adjourn Teahouse.
Adjourn Teahouse is an artisanal loose leaf tea company specializing in organic, hand crafted, full leaf Tea blends. Created by a self-proclaimed tea lover who had visions of creating a Tea brand as a teenager that reflected her family's routine. An ode to her late Mother and Father – it was always about more than tea.
In 2020, we set out on a quest to achieve three desired outcomes, one being to engage the community consistently with the brand outside of the Teas, within their newly revitalized + managed equitable experiential brand experience strategy that would lead to growing Stakeholder value, an increase in revenue + market share.
Let’s break down the loyalty experience in the manner in which we discussed brand loyalty above: its importance, strategically infusing emotions + feelings, and measuring ROX.
The Importance: Brand loyalty was determined to be the highest equitable driver for this experience, as the tea industry is a 122.2 billion dollar industry alone – there is no shortage of options. At a critical time when the world was probed to collectively pause – we set out to intentionally connect deeper than purchases and and encourage intentionally, ease and an understanding + embracing that “The Rest Can’t Wait”. Although in the midst of economic and financial insecurity, with increased strategic focus on brand loyalty, we rolled out an end-to-end journey for all Stakeholders that would build and nourish loyalty for the moment, but, more importantly for when times returned to whatever the new normal was going to be within the next 24 months. This area equated to about 40% of the overall experience strategy.
Strategically Infusing Emotions + Feelings: Four experiential principles were identified along with corresponding emotions + feelings needed to evoke and seduce the subconscious mind to guide Stakeholders within the decision-making process to move them to action – more than once and not only for the tea. The tactics involved being proof of promise, which stated: We promise to provide intentional moments, spaces, and opportunities for you to recenter and balance – while indulging in our heartfelt, luxurious, and mesmerizing hand blended loose leaf teas, made with the profound love necessary in our daily lives.
Return on Experience: Over the course 25 months a loyalty community of 400+ loyalist was built, nourished, and still sustaining – resulting in all three desired outcomes being met, with the community being responsible for nearly 96.2% retention, 87.2% of all brand engagement, 57% referrals, 72.9% of sales + purchases, 3 new initiatives, and an overall 120.8% increase to the bottom line since its official launch. The sentiments from the experience – according to 64.7% of Stakeholders through various analyses – were that the Adjourn’s experience made them feel connected through heartfelt and intentional spaces, conversations & consideration for them as people and not as a paying customer. Even with the Tea priced 6-8% higher per tin from its competitors – the loyalty to the brand, and its experience, outweighed the price and reinforced opportunities to recenter and balance – with or without a cup of tea but always with Adjourning top of mind.
Although the above is just a portion of the customized experiential brand experience strategy for Adjourn, brand loyalty equated and contributed to the overall brand health and longevity for the Teahouse.
Understanding brand loyalty and how beneficial it is to both your brand and its Stakeholders is critical to long term brand sustainability, increase in experience, and the complete bottom line.
To learn more about how loyalty can propel your brand’s experience, speak to an experience manager here.
An Intuitive Empath and Chief Experience Officer of Branperience with over 17 years of branding and marketing experience within various industries and leading organizations before pioneering Branperience, a full-service brand experience firm, in 2018.
"The very thing I was criticized for as a child , being in tune with my feelings + emotions , is the exact superpower I've used to impact the world."