Horizon Featured Article

Building Long-lasting Customer Loyalty with Brand Affinity

Northsail Understands the Importance of Establishing Clear Brand Values

Creating a brand image that perfectly represents your business can be a challenge. You have to consider an enormous number of factors, when it comes to designing and managing how you present your brand.

Everything from conceptualizing your brand's logo to building brand awareness needs to be on your radar. However, of all the facets that go into growing your brand, brand affinity might be the most important.

More than ever, people want to support brands that feel like an extension or representation of their own value systems. This means that your brand always has to be forthcoming about the things you stand for.

For example, Northsail is so committed to always completing our projects on-time, on-spec, and on budget that we'll turn down projects we don't think we can complete to our high standards.

It's through this transparency that we can establish deep, long-lasting customer relationships. Relationships that are built on respect and trust.

Before we discuss how you can use this to your advantage, let's discuss how brand affinity fits in with all the other 'brand jargon' that has crept into marketing culture over the last several years.

What is Brand Affinity?

When you're considering all the different factors that go into managing your brand's image, it can start to feel like a lot of buzzwords that are either overlapping or outright redundant.

However, brand affinity is not one of the flashy word-of-the-month terms you can afford to disregard. At its core, brand affinity may be the single strongest marketing strategy tool at your disposal, at least when it comes to establishing long-term loyalty from your customers.

Brand affinity is a type of loyalty that you can build with your customers, by establishing clear values that your brand represents. Values that customers relate to, so that when they buy your products or services, it's due in part to the fact that they associate their own beliefs with those of your brand. In many cases, it's how consumers pick their favorite brands.

This relationship with brands makes customers want to spend time with your business. Not only do they feel a connection to your brand, your brand becomes an extension of their own values. Managed well, brand affinity will encourage customers to actively and publicly support your business, because they feel your values are a representation of themselves on a personal level.

Most often in retail, this relates to having consistently exceptional customer experiences. Not just good, but great service, every single time they interact with your business. Not to mention, providing consistently high quality products and services.

Being better than your competition here is important, because customers will often compare their experiences with you to other similar brands in your marketplace.

Brand affinity online can be even harder to achieve and is usually more focused on creating an engaging environment; one that will make users want to spend prolonged periods of time learning about your brand and interacting with your content.

Sounds great, right? It is, when it's done effectively. The catch is that true brand affinity can only be established by spending time on each individual customer.

Taking advantage of this doesn't involve some small tweaks to your existing campaigns; you'll need to rethink your entire customer engagement strategy. This way you can ensure you're always providing personalized experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations.

Why Does Brand Affinity Matter?

Consumer behavior studies tell us that happy customers want to use a brand that they relate to. The more time they spend with your brand, and positive customer experiences they have interacting with your business (or the representatives of your brand), the deeper the emotional connection they establish with you.

This creates loyalty, which drives loyal customers to return to your business repeatedly again and again in the future. If you can accomplish this consistently with a substantial portion of your clientele, these repeat consumers will help drive sustainable growth for business.

Yet, as we mentioned before, taking advantage of brand affinity is no small task. It requires substantial consideration; particularly when you're designing all the elements of your brand that your customers engage with directly.

This means that making the most of these consumer trends will likely have a dramatic impact on all of the future plans for your content strategy. However, once you begin establishing stronger brand affinity, it can have an enormous positive impact on your connection with customers, as well as your bottom line.

How Do You Track Brand Affinity?

Unlike a lot of other Key Performance Indicators that we could use to monitor brand metrics, monitoring your brand affinity requires you to narrow your field of view from the broad picture, in order to evaluate some specific types of questions.

What do my customers value? What can I do to encourage customers to emotionally engage with my brand? Is my staff going above and beyond to ensure every customer's shopping experience is even better than they had hoped?

These are the kinds of questions that need to be taken into account when you're establishing brand affinity, but how can we track the results of our efforts?

The easiest answer here is to simply talk to your customers. Give your customers the opportunity to tell you exactly what they value in their lives, as well as the things that they'd like to see from your brand or the products you carry.

You can request surveys, offer perks in exchange for testimonials, or simply talk to them in person at your store. You can also use email marketing strategies to create customer engagement. By the same token, you can utilize social media marketing to engage directly with customers too.

Of course, there are some actual analytics you can track that will also help monitor the effects of brand affinity campaigns, like observing data regarding your web traffic and evaluating statistics from each of your promotions to determine their effectiveness.

Regardless of how you choose to approach this, the idea is the same. You want to give customers the chance to speak for themselves through both their words and their actions, because the information this will give you is invaluable.

How Do You Grow Your Brand Affinity?

The best way to get ready to run brand affinity campaigns is to take a long, hard look at your whole business. Ask yourself, 'What do we stand for?' 'Who is our ideal target demographic?' 'What values best encapsulate my business mission statement?'

Once you've got clear answers to those questions, you're ready to begin shaping your strategy. There are a few different ways you can begin to grow and establish a deeper brand affinity within your customer base.

Showing that your brand is unique among your competitors is a popular, and often effective tactic to help customers differentiate you from other brands in the same marketplace.

Customer loyalty programs are a great way to give added value to your loyal customer base, while also improving the relationships with customers by building stronger connections and establishing common values. Never underestimate the power of a well-designed loyalty program.

Involving consumers directly in your marketing is another fantastic method for growing brand affinity. For example, running a campaign where customers submit pictures of themselves using your product is a spectacular way to engage customers, while also getting them to provide marketing materials to you, instead of vice versa.

This tactic can also be extremely useful for solidifying your brand as diverse, accessible, and inclusive to all peoples. Plus, user-generated content is extremely valuable for marketing to your target audience in the future and establishing customer affinity with other potential customers.

Finding new and interesting ways to interact directly with your target market through platforms like social media can be beneficial in building brand affinity through word of mouth marketing.

Running polls, quizzes, or even including quote calculators customers can use to price out your services, are all fantastic ways to use interactive marketing techniques to grow your brand affinity by focusing on consumer engagement.

Interactive Marketing can benefit your business by providing consistent or in-depth engagement with consumers.

The Benefits of Strong Brand Affinity

Once you've got people that truly believe in your brand, you're going to have a much easier time getting them to champion your brand for you.

In truth, one of the biggest benefits of brand affinity (apart from its ability to encourage customer loyalty), is that customers will want to sing your praises to the heavens, once they stand behind your brand.

The connection we've been talking about, the one that helps consumers associate their own beliefs with those of your brand, is a powerful motivator for word-of-mouth. Your most loyal customers will tell their friends and family all about you, and the unique, memorable, personal experiences you provide for them.

In turn, this can create substantial brand awareness and visibility for you, beyond the reach of your normal marketing materials.

The reality is that there's increased importance being placed on brand values, year after year. 'Brand champion' customers, built from strong brand affinity, have become the cornerstone of many successful businesses. They can allow your brand to expand its reach extremely fast and far.

The real challenge is building those deep emotional connections first. Without those, long-lasting brand affinity is impossible.

Engaging with Customers Requires the Right Resources

Northsail is Developing New, Intuitive Tools All the Time

Now that you understand a bit more about the importance of brand affinity, you can see how overlooking this crucial element can impact all of your marketing and content strategies.

Thinking ahead, and taking the time to interact with customers are extremely important to any brand that has long-term success in mind. At Northsail, we believe in interacting as much as possible with our clients, even giving them the chance to check out new tools and services, before they become available to the public.

With that in mind, Northsail would like to invite you to test out our newest, intuitive service 'Horizon'. Sign-up today, and we'll give you an opportunity to try it out for yourself. All that we ask is that you take a few minutes to let us know what you think about it once you've had a chance to check it out.

We want to hear from you, because that's how Northsail continues to offer all of our clients all the top-quality resources they need. It's our commitment to open, honest communication with clients that sets Northsail apart, as Ontario's most reliable custom software developer.

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