The Archive February 02, 2014

Effective Branding = Consumer Loyalty

Consumer Loyalty Is the Driving Force Behind Apple’s Sweet Success

It’s no secret that a successful brand makes an emotional connection with consumers. And yes, by tapping into your consumers’ emotions, your business is more likely to make a sale. But there’s a much more significant factor at play, one that can lead to consumer confidence and trust — and, ultimately, loyalty. Strong consumer loyalty can give your brand a distinct advantage over the competition, insulating your business from many of the common marketplace hazards, including price, supply and convenience. Loyal customers are gold, and no one knows this better than Apple, easily one of the best brands in business today.

But Apple isn’t the only company reaping the benefits of consumer loyalty born from successful branding. Another company that comes to mind is Subaru. Though the automaker has been around for more than 40 years, their brand has only recently begun to hit its stride. Due in large part to their clever “Love” marketing campaign, Subaru has seen skyrocketing sales. And though not at Apple’s level, Subaru’s consumer loyalty is fueling that growth. For more information, be sure to check out Britton’s case study on Subaru.

Now back to Apple.

The intense brand loyalty shown by Apple customers is the result of the company’s unrelenting commitment to excellence in innovation, due in large part to the vision of late founder Steve Jobs. In his article “Is Brand Loyalty the Core to Apple’s Success?” Scott Goodson describes how Apple was able to maintain a loyal following despite suffering negative press stemming from glitches with the operating systems for the iPhone 4 and 5. “Whenever Apple has problems with its products, its customers are incredibly forgiving and patient,” Goodson says. “They understand that issues can sometimes arise, and they’ll continue to buy Apple products despite any mistakes they might make.”1

So Apple customers are very loyal. But why?

“Well, Apple is Apple because [their customers are] essentially thinking of Steve [Jobs],” Goodson says. “And when you think about how incredibly passionate Steve was about Apple products, ensuring they were of the highest quality and cutting-edge design, you can understand why people are willing to be lenient.” In other words, Steve Jobs’ passion was a tangible, personal quality that allowed consumers to identify emotionally with Apple products. Check out Apple’s video memorial to Steve Jobs. It’s easy to see how brand loyalty became the inevitable byproduct of the Apple brand.

Apple strives for cutting-edge innovation, and they make their fans feel like they’re part of that journey.

According to a report from the website The Motley Fool, 91 percent of existing Apple customers plan to stay with the company when the time comes to upgrade their existing mobile device.2 And a recent CBS Money Watch report highlights a Goldman Sachs survey that found that 21 percent of Apple customers would not switch to products from another vendor, no matter how big a discount they were offered.3 Now that’s some consumer loyalty right there.

OK, so Apple’s consumer loyalty has clearly given the company a competitive advantage. But, despite all their innovations, they don’t own the rights to consumer loyalty. What they do own, however, is a brilliant branding strategy. According to Goodson, “You [first] have to build relationships with your customers. And that means being trustworthy and transparent. Secondly, you have to carry out some movement marketing. You have to stop telling people about what your company makes, and instead think about what you believe in. And what you believe in has to touch a nerve with your target market.” Well, Apple understands this concept perfectly. Check out this TV ad from Apple’s “Think Different” campaign from the late 1990s.

Apple strives for cutting-edge innovation, and they make their fans feel like they’re part of that journey. The company’s beliefs are at the forefront of their brand. And the level of customer loyalty Apple has achieved is as impressive as their innovative products. And while it may be difficult for your business to match Apple’s success, you can certainly use Apple’s branding strategy as a roadmap. Remember, establishing an emotional connection is the goal, and customer loyalty is the result. Sell your vision. It’s what makes you you. And it’s what has made Apple Apple — to the core!

Please note: Britton Marketing & Design Group admires the Apple brand, but we are not affiliated with the company in any way.





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