Customers can sometimes be a business’s fiercest supporters.
A positive, first-hand experience with a brand can encourage customers to become more loyal and recommend a business. If customers believe you can truly deliver on your claimed brand values, they may help you to grow brand recognition organically over time.
Strong customer relationships are essential if you want to build brand recognition. With the right approach, any business can use customer loyalty to build brand recognition over time.
The Relationship Between Loyalty and Brand Recognition
In short, customer loyalty is often a prerequisite for brand loyalty — and, with enough time, brand recognition.
Loyal customers tend to keep spending, but aren’t necessarily invested in the story your company tells.
With positive experiences, time and quality branding, however, loyal customers often come to trust a business and its branding. In day-to-day-life, they may even become something like a brand ambassador for your business — willing to talk with their friends and family about the services you offer.
This is especially true for customers who have uniquely positive experiences with your business. Some people will become very loyal to your brand if you can solve a tricky problem, or provide great service when they are frustrated with how the competition is treating them.
This particular kind of brand recognition is great for both generating repeat sales and driving new business. Loyal customers who remember your brand will both return when they have a pain point your business can solve, and may also be more willing to suggest your brand to others.
Leveraging Customer Loyalty for Brand Recognition
Many of the benefits of customer loyalty are passive — if you put in effort and cultivate a loyal customer base, you’ll be able to reap the rewards over time. For example, you may find that brand recognition improves organically, even without the investment of additional effort or resources into branding.
It’s also possible to actively take advantage of customer loyalty in your branding and design.
For example, many businesses use testimonials and case studies from previous customers to emphasize brand values. These real-world examples from customers can help demonstrate how your business actually embodies its brand values when providing goods or services.
To generate testimonials and reviews, businesses ask existing customers if they’re willing to provide a quick testimonial — usually no more than a few sentences — about an experience they’ve had with your business.
Positive testimonials can be used in marketing materials, like a testimonial section on your website, a brochure or an email.
Reviews can be displayed directly beneath relevant products and services or used in a similar fashion as with testimonials.
Case studies are a more in-depth and complex use of your previous work and existing customer relationships.
These studies are a description of a previous job that breaks down how you worked with a customer to solve a problem.
For example, a restoration business may detail a particularly tough or successful job in which the business was able to repair significant water damage. The case study is often told somewhat like a story. It often begins the post by discussing the problem the client had, possibly with some context about similar problems the business has solved, how the business approached the issue and the client’s reaction with the finished work.
These studies help show off the quality of your work while also demonstrating your business’s unique problem-solving process. By providing a real-world example of how you fulfill your brand values — like a commitment to high-quality service — case studies can also help to make potential clients feel more confident in your business’s abilities.
If you have a repeat client or a job you think your business handled particularly well, you may have the right subject for an effective case study.
Key Strategies For Growing Customer Loyalty
These strategies work best when you have a base of loyal customers willing to recommend your brand or discuss positive experiences they’ve had with your business.
Even if your company already has a fairly loyal customer base, growing customer loyalty is always a good way to further increase customer lifetime value and build brand recognition.
Most businesses rely on a few key strategies to improve customer loyalty.
#1. Referral, Rewards and Points Programs
Across the business world, brands use a wide variety of loyalty programs to encourage customers to stick with their business. These programs reward customers for repeat purchases or for recommending the brand to people they know.
Punch cards, free upgrades, in-store gifts and point systems with purchasable rewards are all examples of how businesses use these programs to encourage loyalty.
These systems encourage repeat business by providing incentives to keep spending — like special discounts, offers or gifts.
#2. Customer Service and Customer Feedback Programs
Good customer service is another great incentive to continue shopping with a brand. If a customer needs help after buying something from a business and they receive quick assistance, they may be much more likely to shop with that brand again in the future.
Customer feedback programs also help to encourage loyalty by opening a line of communication between customers and the business.
Soliciting feedback provides customers with a chance to share their feelings directly with the business. Responding to feedback is a great way to demonstrate that you take customers seriously and are willing to make changes to improve service.
#3. Email Marketing and Newsletters
Email lists and newsletters are another great way to stay in touch with customers. There are a wide variety of email strategies that build customer loyalty, and using any of them can be a great way to expand your brand’s reach while building stronger customer relationships.
Welcome emails, purchase follow-up emails and new feature emails can all help you build a relationship with customers. Email marketing can also dovetail nicely with rewards programs — consider email reminders about the points they’ve already earned or new rewards and offers that may be on the way.
This strategy often works best in combination with one of the strategies above. Personalized marketing draws on specific user information — like search history, purchase history and review data — to provide more targeted offers.
For example, a business launching a new line of products may target an email ad to customers who have purchased similar products from them in the past.
These targeted ads are typically more relevant and valuable than ads, even ads that have been tailored to be relevant to a specific segment or group of customers.
Improving ad relevance is a great way to ensure that the emails you send to customers are as relevant and engaging as possible, reducing potential frustration and encouraging additional sales.
#5. Gathering Customer Feedback and Data
It’s also important to know why customers are shopping with you — and why they may decide to shop with someone else. Gathering feedback and customer data from sources like email surveys, reviews, site analytics and social listening tools will tell you how customers feel about your brand.
This information is essential in improving the services you offer. Over time, the right data can really help a business to alter customer service processes or upgrade products to better meet customer needs, helping to improve customer loyalty.
Aligning Your Branding and Customer Service Strategies
If you want to maximize brand recognition, it’s also key that you keep your customer service and branding strategies closely aligned.
Customer loyalty doesn’t necessarily translate into brand loyalty. If you don’t have a strong branding strategy, customers may recall their positive experiences, but struggle to remember your brand.
Similarly, a negative experience with the customer service team may make it unlikely that a customer becomes loyal to your brand, no matter how effective your marketing or branding strategy is.
A business approach that aligns branding and customer service will help you ensure that effective branding efforts or the efforts of your customer service team don’t go to waste. It will also help you keep different teams in your business working in sync.
Creating branding documents or knowledge bases for marketing promos will help you ensure that your customer service team has direct access to your branding team’s plans for marketing campaigns and promotions.
Improved buyer personas can benefit both your marketing and customer service teams. Improving the knowledge your business has of its market will help you ensure that you can always meet customer needs.
A quick brand audit or review of your overall branding strategy is also a great way to ensure that you are staying on track when it comes to communicating the right values and messages that you want people to associate with your brand.
Why Customer Loyalty Is Essential to Brand Recognition
Loyal customers can help a business create a stronger brand. Testimonials, case studies, reviews and recommendations all help to drive new sales, expand brand reach and reinforce brand values.
Cultivating customer loyalty can help you improve brand recognition for this reason. Taking advantage of loyalty-building strategies like rewards programs, email marketing and personalization can all help you create a more recognizable brand.
About the Author!
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.