For a brand to be good, it needs to make a promise that’s meaningful, differentiated, easy to learn and easy to understand – and then it needs to fulfill that promise every time.
A brand that doesn't make such a promise won't earn new customers. And a brand that does make such a promise but doesn't deliver on it every time will not keep its old customers.
Brand is the relationship between your business and its audience. Some of that audience is new customers. Some of that audience is old customers. Your brand provides that unifying clarity that will delight people regardless of where they are in their journey with your business.
Having said that, there is often more air time given to brand awareness building, getting new customers, than to fostering loyalty among old customers. So although I contend that brand serves customers across the journey stages, I want to spend a couple moments just talking about brand's role in fostering loyalty.
Brand sets the groundwork for loyalty. The math for a lasting, vibrant business only works if that business not only has new customers coming through the door, but also has old customers that are loyal and have a high willingness to pay and will recommend this brand to others.
Businesses with low customer churn have better profits than do their peers with higher customer churn. So to make that math work, pinpoint the thing that means a lot to your target audience and that you alone can deliver on. That will create value across the stages of the journey for customers who are just learning about you through the customers who have already paid for what you offer.
Uniquely bringing a big benefit to your customers will inspire their gratitude and that will keep them engaged with your business for as long as you're bringing that value to them.
Take Starbucks. We gladly wait in line for that $5 on a cup of coffee because we get so much value for that $5. Starbucks brings a big benefit. Good coffee, uplifting atmosphere, a great place to connect with people. It's this consistency that you can count on.
This fills a deep need and provides meaningful value to customers, which spurs their loyalty. It makes them a customer, not just one time, but countless times.
Do you over-index on lavishing love on new customers at the expense of old customers?
Remember: a brand that creates enduring value nurtures relationships with customers regardless of where they are in their journey with your business.
Lindsay is a Brand Strategist and Founder of Ironclad Brand Strategy, which builds brands using an exacting and analytic method. Her background as a P&L owner at Clorox fostered a deep appreciation for the executive charge: to create sustainable value. Ironclad advises companies from burgeoning startups to national corporations, including Zulily, IMDb, T-Mobile and Starbucks. Lindsay holds an MBA in Business from the University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business.