If brands are about relationships, why not build a strong brand marriage?
I’m not suggesting that you walk down the aisle with your clients. But maybe the time has come to see brand relationships in a different way?
We all know that the best brands establish strong emotional connections with their customers. However, recent research suggests that the best brands don’t stop there. Instead, they tap into those emotional connections to such an extent that their customers feel “married” to the brand.
In general, customers establish strong emotional connections with a brand in two ways. First, they personify the product (or the company) so that they have a relationship with it as they would with a real person. Sometimes they experience a wide range of emotions when interacting with the brand and sometimes they even talk about the brand as if they were a good friend. Apple Mac users belong to this group.
Second, customers can be part of a group that shares a common bond around the brand. Harley Davidson and BMW motorcycle customers belong to this group, as do the user groups of many software companies.
For most technologists and scientists, however, this emotional branding model is too warm and fuzzy, especially with products that mostly satisfy functional needs. Most technology companies find it very difficult to methodically and systematically build emotional commitments. They also find it challenging, if not impossible, to measure and monitor these emotional connections when they occur.
As a result, when it comes to building a strong brand marriage, many tech companies are left on the altar.
Thanks to pioneering work by the Gallup Organization around the issue of brand engagement, brand licensing may soon become a thing of the past.
In his insightful book, Married to the Brand, Gallup draws on worldwide research and development efforts completed between 2000 and 2004 to define the emotional bond necessary to link a customer to a brand. More importantly, they illustrate the basic principles involved in creating the ultimate brand relationship – passion for the brand – and bring customers to the point where they feel that no other brand will work.
Fortunately for tech companies, the research doesn’t stop at luxury retail brands like BMW cars, Armani suits, or Louis Vitton handbags. It also includes those hard-to-mark relationships between IT managers and their software vendors or between doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
Research highlights include:
* There are crucial differences between a customer and an engaged customer. Don’t settle for just winning a customer. Instead, strive for customer engagement.
* What it takes to initially attract a first-time buyer is quite different than what it takes to turn that buyer into a fully engaged customer.
* It is the total experience of the brand, and not just a few isolated elements, that determines the health of a brand marriage.
* It takes more than trust to build a long-term brand relationship. You must also have a passion for the brand.
* Emotions are powerful, profitable and measurable.
* Every time a customer touches a company, the relationship with the brand can be improved. Or it can decrease.
* Successful brand marriages can only be achieved through company-wide engagement and integrated and aligned efforts.
Why do customers say “Yes, I do”
The best of Gallup’s research involves a series of questions that measure and monitor the strength of the relationship that exists between a company or brand and its customers. As part of its findings, Gallup found that strong answers to these questions are directly related to increased market share, revenue, profit, and customer retention – just the kind of research and validation that unemotional CFOs can sink their business into. teeth.
The questions are divided into two basic categories. The first three questions measure customer satisfaction; the last eight measure the strength of the customer’s commitment to the brand.
We have a 5 point scale from “extremely” (5) to “not at all” (1):
* Overall, how satisfied are you with [Brand]?
* How likely is it that I will continue to choose / buy back / repeat (if necessary)? [Brand]?
* How likely are you to recommend [Brand] to a friend / associate?
We have a 5-point scale from “Strongly agree” (5) to “Strongly disagree” (1):
*[Brand] It is a name that I can always trust.
*[Brand] always deliver what they promise.
*[Brand] he always treats me fairly.
* If a problem arises, I can always count on [Brand] to reach a just and satisfactory resolution.
* I am proud to be a [Brand] [customer/shopper/user/owner].
*[Brand] always treats me with respect.
*[Brand] is the perfect [company/product/brand/store] for people like me.
* I can’t imagine a world without [Brand].
According to Gallup research, the answers to these questions indicate with remarkable accuracy whether your customers consider you a partner for life or a one-night stand. More importantly, they point out areas in which companies can take specific actions to build the relationship and strengthen the brand.
The reality is that your customers are eager to tell you the status of your brand relationships. Plus, they’d love to help you make those relationships even better. Wedding bells may ring for your brand, but only if you ask the right questions, listen carefully to what your customers are saying, and take appropriate action based on what you hear.