Monday, 1 october 2018 | Brenda Rodríguez López
They are known as brand lovers: people who forge such a strong emotional bond with a firm that they consider they are betraying it, when they buy a product from a rival company. These customers have for the "chosen brands” a feeling of unconditional loyalty. Their passion for it is so big that it is difficult for companies to find better ambassadors. However, is this love for firms a spontaneous feeling? Is something else hidden behind this commercial fever? How do brands turn potential customers into brand lovers?
The use of influencers in the marketing strategies of companies is growing in an unstoppable way. Brands are fully aware of the great potential of one of the most outstanding attributes of these celebrities: naturalness. Their influential force lies precisely in its spontaneity and ability to get along with their audience. Nevertheless, what happens when these public figures of the digital world do not really feel an emotional bond with brands? Influencers have the ability to become great ambassadors of firms, but, when their passion for them is feigned, their potential is reduced proportionally.
Brand lovers lack the fame which is capable of viralizing a message, but they are natural promoters of brands. That is precisely their hallmark. Their commitment is real and, therefore, their message is very powerful. It may seem that behind these beloved brands –such as Apple, Amazon, Star Wars, Ferrari or Real Madrid–, there is only a fervent passion for products and services. And of course there is, but there is also a sound and thoughtful strategy to turn customers into potential brand lovers. What is the secret of these companies?
When a brand wants to become the "chosen one", the first step which they need to take is designing a sound strategic plan. It is difficult for customers to love a brand when it does not follow a clear path, or its global idea lacks consistency. It is even more difficult for brands to seduce clients in this way. Once this is understood, the next movement requires a constant and meticulous monitoring work. The most beloved brands are the ones that consumers trust and those that get to know them well, meet their dreams as much as possible and include them in their achievements and developments.
In the digital environment, users overcome the fear of speaking clearly, they loosen up. Brands can benefit from this honesty and transparency and get to know their clients and potential brand lovers better. It is about following the conversations that users have in relation to brands within the online world: monitoring the related hashtags, knowing what they comment on social networking sites and related forums, identifying who their best supporters are, etc. In short, the key is getting as close as possible to customers, understanding what makes brands attractive to their enthusiasts and, then, using all that information to design their strategy.
An attractive and seductive brand not only has an irresistible personality, but also a story behind it, its own narrative. Storytelling is a fundamental strategy for turning clients into brand lovers. Caring for communication is always key when talking about digital marketing, but all the more so when we try to get consumers to become our staunch supporters. Talking about storytelling means talking about the ability of brands to tell stories. In this case, their own stories.
Making clients fall in love with brands requires the firms to be able to create a strong attachment with them. Brands will not succeed, if they cannot succeed in moving move them, if they do not talk to them in the same language, and do not make them feel that they are also part of their projects. Their communication has to be different, stand out from the rest, be interesting and meet their expectations, even go beyond them.
Of course, achieving this level of commitment with consumers is not easy. To accomplish this, the marketing strategy must be comprehensive, it should not be limited to the digital dimension. For example, football teams turn the launch of their new shirts (and their new sport equipment) into great events, it could even be said into big parties. Part of the charm of their strategy lies in keeping the mystery until the last moment. Of course, until that day, and especially on the digital dimension, brand lovers open debates, share leaks, make bets, talk about the possible T-shirt' design,... Their followers generate conversations. In fact, they even mark that date on the calendar as a special occasion, and the most enthusiastic fans compete for being the first ones to acquire these shirts.
Technology firms also use offline strategies to show their devices for the first time, as if they were breakthroughs. Sometimes these shows look more like congresses than commercial events. On the day of the launch of a new cell phone, a multitude of brand lovers wait in endless queues to hold a new generation smartphone in their hands. Big cinema sagas –many of them turned into brands–, call their fans to attend special meetings, raffle tickets for their premieres and invite their followers to disguise as their films' heroes. Sports companies also organize original meetings: from concerts to races or tournaments. All this, because they want to be as close as possible to their potential brand lovers.
Most brands which have triumphed using brand lovers' strategies have created their own universe where customers and, above all, enthusiastic followers occupy a very special place. Differentiating yourself from other brands in a society as competitive and changing as the current one is a difficult task. Nonetheless, companies can connect with their customers by building small communities that orbit around them.
Companies cannot make clients fall in love in a forced way. The goal of a strategy based on brand lovers does not pursue the growth of the number of sales –nor does it expect to increase the number of followers in the social networking sites–, the objective is getting customers to be seduced by brands in a persuasive and natural way. To create this kind of emotional link, consumers have to feel beloved, to some extent pampered. There are many tactics that can be adopted in this sense: becoming aspirational brands (those which professionals want to work for or that they want to imitate), organizing special events, sharing different content, holding raffles, offering unique opportunities, etc.
The CEU IAM Business School offers a Master's Degree in Digital Marketing that responds to the current demands of this market in full growth. It is a blended-learning methodology aimed at achieving that, with a practical and current approach, our students can apply their acquired knowledge from the first day, also being able to design and carry out any type of online strategies.