It’s a love thing

It’s certainly worth trying to build a brand that it is great or better still, loved. After all, the research for our Brand Love report suggested there’s a clear link between a brand’s lovability and the loyalty it enjoys. We found that people who think a brand is great are three times more likely to recommend it and are twice as tolerant of its mistakes. For instance, on average people will give great brands or the ones they love 2.44 more chances to mess up before they take their custom elsewhere. That additional loyalty translates into a lot of sales.

So how does a manufacturing brand go about establishing the greatness and love which drive such loyalty? To answer this, we studied over 100 leading marketers; people responsible for the success of top brands.

They told us that price and customer service are not the answer. Don’t get me wrong, these factors matter, but they’re not the key ingredients. Indeed, according to our Brand Love study, just 33 per cent of marketers think value for money is important for brand greatness, and 34 per cent believe it is determined by its customer support.

Manufacturers who struggle with innovation will also be reassured to hear that innovation is also not the answer; despite the huge success of innovative manufacturing brands such as Blue Buffalo, GoldieBlox and Hampton Creek, innovation doesn’t make your brand loveable. People may think you’re clever but they won’t necessarily love you. Indeed, just 11 per cent of marketers think innovation is key to brand greatness.

Instead, the brands we consider great are those we trust (60 per cent), and which make us feel good (58 per cent). What’s more, our research found brands are loved when they have values which align with the customer’s values (55 per cent), are closely tied with the consumer’s identity (38 per cent) and become part of someone’s life (42 per cent).

In other words, to make your brand loveable you need to have an incredibly high level of intimacy with your customers. But how is this done?

Firstly, you need to really know your customer. One of the biggest mistakes brands make on the road to greatness is failing to understand their customers. There’s no excuse for this. Use your customer data – big data could step in here – so that your communications with customers feel personal. The content shared, and the form and timing of all interactions are utterly in step with the customer and fit with their lives. A customer does not want to feel like just another name on a list! So, if you want to be loved mass marketing messages are out.

The brands we love also have values that are in sync with our own. So, you need to know what you stand for, what your values are and how to articulate them – but authentically and consistently. Take care, it’s no good adopting values which aren’t your own just to appeal at a particular moment in time or fit with a trend. People will see through this.

Also, building a great, loved brand that people are loyal to takes years. Ancient Harvest first introduced the US consumer to quinoa way back in 1983. The Lego Group was founded in 1932 and Apple was founded in 1976. If you adopt a fake set of values that you don’t really believe in, you will never keep up the charade for the time it takes to reach greatness. So, be the real version of yourself – from day one.

Once you know what the essence of your brand’s personality is, amplify it wholeheartedly – again, you must be the real deal. At every touch point, whether that’s with the customer service team, online, face to face, on the phone or on social media, the communication must be personal and on point.

This reference to customer services is an important one. Our research found that we will tolerate almost five mistakes from a brand we love before we then ‘walk’. This means some of your most loyal customers could be sitting in your customer complaints system and having repeated interactions with your customer service team. So, keep an eye on what’s coming into the customer service team – and going out!

The last lesson for those who want to be a loved brand is don’t be complacent. Companies are often so focused on bringing in new business that they forget the customers they have. But focusing solely on new customers is, according to 58 per cent of marketers, the biggest mistake made by brands on the road to greatness. Your loyal customers are the most valuable of assets – they are twice as tolerant of your mistakes and are three times more likely to recommend you – nurture them, don’t neglect them.

Energy PR
Louise Findlay-Wilson is Founder and Managing Director of Energy PR. Energy PR is one of the UK’s leading creative and digital PR agencies, with a strong track record in promoting businesses and brands to international audiences. Energy PR’s clients include US organisations such as New York Toy Fair, helping them boost their reach in overseas markets.