As a business, consistent branding is one of the most important ways in which you can build a loyal customer base. Effective branding isn’t just about having a memorable logo and some brand colours. It’s about having company values that are instilled in all of your employees so that customers are treated well and kept happy. It’s about ensuring that all of your channels are instantly recognisable, including any stores, websites and apps. It includes your company’s advertising, merchandise, logo, packaging and even shop layout or decor
What is the main purpose of branding?
Customers are very quick to form an opinion of your business and this can happen in just a few seconds or minutes. Your branding could be the reason shoppers return to make a second purchase or the cause of them not shopping with you again. Therefore, brand fostering is extremely important if you wish to make a good first impression. For example, if you have a disorganised store or a website that is inefficient and slow, your customers may remember this and it could put them off making future purchases.
Branding is there to ensure that your customers experience a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience, and it could prevent unwanted brand switching. It must be consistent across all stores and channels, including email newsletters and social media.
What is brand switching?
The world moves so much faster than it ever used to and customers are giving less of their attention to brands. This is because, far before the age of internet and digital marketing, the main forms of advertisement were billboards and leaflets through your front door. In the 1900s, you would likely shop with local companies as delivery was not as available or affordable as it is today. Therefore, your choice was much more limited.
Nowadays, companies are fighting for attention and potential customers may not notice your efforts as much as they used to. People are bombarded with hundreds of advertisements every single day, including when they’re driving, on the computer, listening to the radio or watching the television. If they see a better deal or an advert that they like, customers may consider switching to another brand for a similar product.
Most people will switch because they can get a similar product at a cheaper price. According to the Data and Marketing Association, getting better value is a reason 57 per cent of customers would switch. The second most popular reason for switching is because consumers found a brand that suits their personal needs better (31 per cent).
But how does your branding impact whether a customer might choose to switch to another company? It could be as simple as a change in a competitor’s packaging. For example, a competitor might have made a pledge to use less plastic and switched to more eco-friendly packaging. A customer might then choose to shop with them instead.
What is a challenger brand?
Even if your customers are switching to challenger brands, you may not be familiar with this term. However, it is likely that you’ve come across some of the biggest challenger brands, such as Ikea, The Body Shop and AirBnB.
Challenger brands tend to oppose norms and stereotypes. They shake up the industry by offering something that no one else has yet and they’re often willing to do something bold in order to stand out. For example, AirBnB came up against big hotel sites like Booking.com and Expedia and yet it succeeded because it offers something that no other hotel booking sites offer – not hotels, but rooms in other people’s personal houses.
How does branding help to maintain customer loyalty?
If your customers are switching to another company because of branding, then it also stands that branding could be the reason your clients stay loyal to you. Customers that return to your brand time and again are as important as gaining new customers. This loyalty can be difficult to come by, but good branding is just one of the ways you can do this.
How to maintain brand loyalty
Your customers may be put off shopping with you because of some issues with your website that you aren’t aware of. For example, perhaps the site is preventing them from adding a product to the basket or it’s stopping them from logging into their account. These issues can be frustrating for a customer and it’s likely that they’ll search for a competitor whom they can buy a similar item from.
In order to help ensure that your customers stay with you, you could think about offering them incentives. These could include discounts when they sign up to your marketing emails, special treats on their birthday and loyalty points. You could observe your customers’ habits to see which offers might appeal to them.
Good customer service is also essential. If a loyal customer is treated badly when trying to resolve an issue, they may not return. Staff should be trained so that they can deal with these situations in the best way possible. Though this may not seem like a type of branding, it’s giving a good impression of your business – and this could affect how customers see your brand in the future.
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