Have you ever wondered why big companies have such loyal customers?
For example, many people choose to ignore small coffee shops around them to buy coffee from Starbucks. Some even go off their work/school routes every morning just to get a cup of coffee from Starbucks, even when presented with other options.
This is not necessarily because Starbucks coffee is the best, but because the company has been able to identify what appeals to its customers, and take full advantage of it. They are all about the consumer having a great brand experience.
It’s the brand experience strategy.
Most Fortune 500 companies, regardless of the products and services they offer, have been able to identify their appeal to their customers. This is how they keep their customers making repeat purchases, and encouraging other people to patronize the brand.
Here are a few ways they do this:
- They understand that two different brands can sell the same products or service, but not the same experience.
Brand experience covers all the reactions triggered in an individual, both mentally and emotionally, in relation to a particular brand or emotion.
Example: I would patronize a brand I’ve built an emotional connection with, over one that’s just concerned with selling a product to me. So would the majority of consumers.
- They recognize that the strength in any brand experience marketing strategy they come up with is its ability to provide a positive experience for their customers before, during and after the completion of the sales process.
The experience they provide for their customers is what builds and preserves their fierce loyalty to these brands.
- These brands completely understand their consumers and put a large chunk of their marketing budget to buyer research.
They know what the morning routine of a female consumer between the ages of 21-26, living in Iowa will include.
If they want to, they can find out what percentage of their consumers take runs in the morning right after they wake up. And what percentage choose to run after they get back from work.
Little details, when applied during both production and marketing process, can change how successful the product will be in the market.
A few examples of how big brands have leveraged brand experience:
Starbucks with social media appeal
A brand like Starbucks understands their social media appeal. They know that most of their customers post up pictures of their Starbucks cup minutes after getting their coffee. The company applies this knowledge heavily in their marketing strategies.
A lot of their campaigns are centered around posting aesthetically pleasing and creative photos or videos with the Starbucks coffee cup in them. This is why an experiment like the Red Christmas Starbucks cup was a huge success.
Whole Foods with organic food
When people think about buying clean, fresh, organic food, one of the first options they consider is Whole Foods. This is not because Whole Foods own the only stores that carry organic food, but because the brand is represented as a trusted seller.
Whole Foods has been able to convince customers that they would never compromise on the quality of the food they sell. Which is why many people are willing to take weekly drives past all the other food stores around them, to shop at the closest Whole Foods store.
Airbnb with social engagement
Brands like Coca-Cola and Airbnb are known for their ads and relationship building campaigns.
A good example is Airbnb’s #OneLessStranger campaign. In just three weeks after the launch, they were able to get over 3,000,000 people engaged in the campaign.
Their listings grew rapidly after that campaign, and today, they have over 150 million users.
The campaign encouraged people to perform random acts of kindness to strangers, and share pictures together on social media. This is not the type of campaign that is easily forgotten, especially by people who were recipients of those acts of kindness.
Thinking of Airbnb will always trigger an emotional reaction in a lot of people, for the rest of their lives.
Apple with brand representation
For a brand like Apple, they satisfy their customers by preserving the Apple brand image. Apple designs gadgets to fit their brand, not necessarily the needs of their buyers.
Apple determines memory size, limitations to how much sharing can be done and a few other things, without giving the users much of an option.
However, people keep buying Apple products eagerly after each launch. This is because the representation of the brand has been carved carefully. The brand has what can almost be described as a fan-base.
Apple also ensures excellent customer service. The Apple Support team, both online and in-person, treat customers with so much enthusiasm and respect. This degree of service creates the reassurance that you are indeed special when you use an Apple device.
Now, here’s a quick exercise:
- Think of your brand.
- What feeling/thought comes to you immediately?
- Has a customer ever shared a distinct experience with you that made your brand stand out in their opinion? What was it?
- What do customers appreciate most when they make a purchase from you?
It is unlikely that you will get a clear answer to these questions if you have not been working towards a target brand experience. However, if you do get one, it means there is something there naturally, which can be explored.
If there’s nothing that clearly differentiates your brand from every other brand that offers similar services, it means that you are still blended with the crowd. Now you need to start working on a new brand experience strategy.
These types of relationship marketing strategies applied by Fortune 500 companies can also be used by brands of all sizes. The scale on which they are applied will also grow as the company grows.
What is your brand appeal and how did you identify it/them? Share with us in the comment section.