Reconnecting emotionally with your customers now is more important than ever. Here’s how to build life-long loyalty through real connections in today’s digital world.
The effects of Covid remains country specific, but I think it’s safe to say that globally we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And no, it’s not an oncoming train; it genuinely looks like we’re past the worst. We talk to a lot of brands and we’re seeing exciting changes in people’s mindsets and positive markers in the industry. The strain of the last year is starting to lift, and several of the more pioneering brands have taken smart steps in building up brand love, providing examples for others to follow.
We’re often writing about the role of brand love, and we believe emotional engagement and deep relationships with customers are now more important than ever before. Turning customers into life-long brand fans not only improves the bottom line (75 per cent of buying choices are based on emotion), but it also helps to future-proof your brand’s relevance. The question is: how do you build brand love in our current work and life climate? Here’s what we’ve learnt over almost thirty years in the game:
1. Take a stand that’s close to your brands mission
While most brands have CSR initiatives and charity programs, the most successful brands have created authentic services that augment what they sell or make as a company. Case in point: LEGO. Famous for their plastic toys and digital brand extensions, their name is an abbreviation of two Danish words: ‘leg’ and ‘godt’, which translates roughly into ‘play well’. Their recent community focus is against cyberbullying, and even though they create physical toys, their digital extensions (games, movies, and more) are now a crucial part of their business. Research by Qustodio has shown the screen time for kids has increased by 100 per cent year-on-year, and along with it, a rise in cyberbullying and online threats.
To help combat this, LEGO created an interactive quiz with a Captain Safety character to teach kids empathy skills. It uses animated videos to help them learn how to be kind and safe online. And that’s not all; they also provided free activity packs to help parents talk to their children about topics ranging from online bullying and trolling, through to talking to strangers and managing screen time. They’ve harnessed digital tools to help children (and parents) physically, and not only are they providing practical benefits, but they’re also earning respect, trust, and the coveted brand love. Many of our senior team at Because across the globe have young kids, so LEGO, as parents we salute you.
2. Appeal to your customers’ better nature
One of the more positive side effects of the pandemic (beyond cleaner skies and waterways) is that customers have become generally more socially conscious of what they’re eating and what they’re buying – especially within the millennial and Gen Z markets. They’re not doing it just for their health (which is a key focus for Gen Z); they’re becoming more critical of what they can do for the planet, for fellow man and for a better future for all. We’ve seen a rise in plant-based diets and eco-conscious fashion, and brands that aren’t seen as having a moral compass are already losing business. Focusing on sustainability isn’t just a line item on the corporate agenda, it’s a guaranteed brand-builder and is essential for good bottom-line growth.
The good news? There are plenty of ways that brands can make this work without needing to re-engineer their businesses from scratch. You just need a little creativity and to partner with the right people. A recent example of a company getting this right: Patagonia adding a ‘Buy Used’ button on their US website to make second-hand sales work. Buying used extends a garment’s life by two years, which then cuts its carbon, waste and water footprint by 73 per cent.
3. You can’t improve what you can’t measure
Yes, you read right – we’re talking about focusing on your staff first, not your customers. Whether it’s looking at their mental health or finding new ways to make WFH work better, investing in your staff not only creates a better work culture, it has also proven to improve your product and service. At Because, we’re all about investing in brand culture this year, and it must start with your staff and colleagues, as they’re the ones who represent your brand, deal with your customers, and are responsible for brand growth. If you want your customers to have a great experience with your brand, it’s your staff that you need to focus on first. Don’t just take our word for it: read Richard Branson’s advice too.
4. Use nostalgia as a tool
While there are several powerful methods you can use to build brand love in 2021, we’ve got a soft spot for the trend of using nostalgia, or using your customers’ emotional connections with the past to help create deeper relationships. These past loves help build future affinity, and it’s especially powerful in pandemic times, as it is seen as an antidote to the stress and loneliness we’ve all been feeling and for the longing we want for better days now. A recent case in point: the Superbowl advert created by Cheetos pairs That ’70s Show stars Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis with the musician Shaggy. The ad premise relies on a remix of Shaggy’s earworm song, ‘It Wasn’t Me’, but focusing on a new who-ate-my-Cheerios angle, and the result? An instant hit of nostalgia that makes the ad memorable – even if you weren’t a fan of the song in the first place.
5. Don’t neglect diversity
We don’t just mean in the way you define and speak to your target audience; we’re also talking about your staff and office culture. We found last year that a work culture that authentically supports diversity will adapt quicker to challenges, offer greater creativity, and ultimately provide a better product or service. It also forges more close-knit teams and better working dynamics. It doesn’t just end with your team, though; you also need a diverse range of clients with varying needs and unique challenges. Our Global MD Sharon, nailed it with this quote: “You can’t grow with a cookie-cutter client roster.”
Putting people and the planet first isn’t just the socially acceptable thing to do, it’s also the solution to turning lukewarm customers into lifelong fans. It might cost you in the short-term in terms of time and effort, but it will make your brand feel more ‘human’ and drive both transparency and authenticity: two of the essential needs for the younger generations of buyers and influencers. It’s also just the right thing to do – and the brand love you get is a really great added benefit. That should be reason enough.