Brand Management has been a worry for marketers irrespective of the economy. While few had a smooth sail when it came to establish their brand, for most of the others it often is a draconian task.
Brands like Apple have been cashing in on their huge fan base and brand evangelists. Brand evangelists are the ones who would stick by the brand during its tough phases and are often the ones recommending the products (or services) to their friends & family.
They are the ones who would post about the brand on social networking websites and create fan pages. More and more companies are realizing the value of these Brand Evangelists and spending their marketing budgets for creating more of them.
But creating Brand Evangelists doesn’t happen overnight but requires due diligence from the side of the brand as well. I have tried to understand what innovative organizations with a strong identity have tried to do over the years.
Quality of Products:
Remember the best pastry you EVER had? The most amazing journey? Remember the time you got blown away by the new gadget you saw on YouTube or with your friend?
We all have such memories because the product was able to appeal to our emotions. The “WOW” factor of the product or service was able to occupy a place in our memories that we would always remember it. Thus a high quality product which can really impress the customer in terms of its creativity & quality would guarantee his loyalty to the brand.
Such a person would also act as an evangelist for the product & encourage his friends, family to try it as well.
Recently I moved and wanted to have a new broadband connection at my home. In spite of the salesperson offered me the cheapest connection with the highest speeds / benefits I declined to take the offer. Simply because a friend of mine once cribbed about their customer service & handling of complaints.
The world is more & more social and people are very vocal about what they like & hate about products and services. A browse through any product’s technical forums would show you that majority of the people who come there, do so to vent their frustration about the product or its services.
A good customer service does go a long way. Flipkart is one of the prime examples of this – You can see so many comments from satisfied users where they were promised delivery time of 6 – 8 days for their product, but delivered within 2 days & pleasantly surprised the customer. The news spread like wildfire over social networking sites & people were eager to try it out themselves.
What is new in that? From the time I remember, everyone from clothing retailers to salons is offering it. A fellow colleague once showed me a dozen loyalty cards in his wallet belonging to different retail chain. For him and many others, the key is to find the product he wishes to buy from any of these retailers and use the particular retailer’s card.
So with every clothing retailer in the city offering a loyalty card and reward point scheme, everyone are at level playing field.
To gain an edge, retailers should think out of the box and leverage the advances in IT to best use. Straight of the box Customer Relation packages are often being used by retailers to organize their loyalty program without benefiting the full potential of these products.
US retail giant Target had an intensive customer relationship program to the extent that it could guess when a women is pregnant based on her shopping trends, even before the father knew. Though such programs could appear as invading customer privacy, fine-tuned version of these can create loyal brand followers.
A proximity sensor on your loyalty card would let the retailer know who you are and what your shopping trends are immediately once you step into the store.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives might not be an innovative strategy anymore, but it still yields results. It is no surprise when we find companies trying to constantly remind you how socially responsible they are.
While brands like Coke encourage their consumers to spread smiles by sharing a coke or Woodlands (shoes & apparel) encourage people to explore nature, they directly benefit from the sale of their products. But not all companies are so fortunate to get a cause close enough to their product or service.
Organizations these days rely on precious information from social network mining, to understand which activity appeals most to their target audience and accordingly plan their activities. These can vary considerably based on demography, a constant reminder that a brand is socially responsible, goes a long way in creating a brand loyalist ie; a budding brand evangelist.