Whether you are an Italian restaurant, a smartphone seller, an organic grocery store, or a women’s fashion store, something about your brand must win the long-term favor of its customers to succeed. Of course, it is important to provide a service where customers eventually find what they are looking for. But they will – with your brand or not. Customers can travel a few kilometers or go online and find another company that meets their needs. And there is no reason not to do so, because it is simply a transaction – an emotionless exchange of money for goods or services that can be obtained anywhere. Customers will not come back to you if they are not invested in your brand.
What is the difference between simply making a transaction and establishing a long-term relationship with a customer? How can your brand acquire an invested consumer base?
Well, apart from selling excellent products and impeccable customer service, the answer to these questions is surprisingly simple. Establish an emotional benefit for your brand. What makes us watch our favorite movies over and over again? Our desire to invoke the same emotions we felt the last time we looked at it.
It is reassuring to know that what we are about to watch is something we will appreciate. And it’s the same for a brand. We feel comfortable buying from a brand that has made us feel positive emotions in the past. That is why a person’s emotions are the most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy from a brand. Once we have found a comfort zone – once we have found our refuge – why leave it? Why take the risk of going elsewhere?
So what makes people feel emotionally invested in my brand? Jim Joseph’s article on entrepreneur.com perfectly summarizes what separates a brand in which customers are emotionally invested from one in which they are not. “Customers don’t necessarily remember what you do for them as much as they remember what you made them feel.” What brands need to do to achieve this will depend on the type of activity and their target audience. But a number of key elements will still apply.
Describe your product or service in a clear and understandable way, in a way that seems real, so that the average consumer can connect with it. Humans all have fundamental values: family, friends, a social life, the desire to relax and take a break. These values are all associated with comfort, inclusiveness and pleasure – feelings that we actively seek in life and that create a refuge for us. Your brand must represent these values.
People are, for the most part, social beings. The relationships we build with others are important to us and we do not easily abandon them. Your brand must build strong customer relationships. Make them feel part of a family or community. This will make them feel emotionally invested in your brand and also eager to use your services again, because they have the satisfaction of maintaining a positive relationship. It also helps to humanize your brand.
Social networks are an excellent way to do this. Whether on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, talking and communicating with your customers without the sole purpose of marketing your service or product is a great way to communicate with them emotionally. Countless brands, large and small, build their brands through social networks because it is an opportunity to show customers that there are people – who value their values – behind the brand. Customers will feel confident and will trust your brand. They feel they can easily open up to you and discuss if they need to, which turns your brand into a comfort zone: a haven of peace.
The identity of a person is important to them. Their opinions, preferences, routines – these and many other factors define who they are. And people don’t like to have their identities suppressed. This is an excellent opportunity to win customer loyalty and make them feel attached to your brand. Recognize their individuality. Personalize their purchase.
“Starbucks Name on a Cup” is an excellent example. Everyone who has been to Starbucks in the last two years remembers ordering a latte or hot chocolate and getting their name from the waiter behind the counter. It seems to be such an insignificant addition to the transaction, but it makes a huge difference in the way they perceive their order and perceive the Starbucks brand. The intention is clear: by calling you by name, they want to make your purchase more personalized and inclusive as a person. The customer is no longer a reference number or simply a transaction. He is a person. And the person will know that the brand recognizes them. This makes them feel respected and validated as individuals. They feel emotionally involved in their order and in the brand, with whom they have begun to build relationships. The brand will now represent a place to which they belong and where they have personally invested themselves. It is a haven of peace: a place where they feel safe and comfortable in their identity. And they will much prefer to go back to a place that arouses this feeling, rather than another coffee where they are simply called latte, decaffeinated. Make customers see and feel that you care.