The Power of Brand Affinity & How to Make It Your Secret Weapon
People often create brands for people, but this doesn’t always guarantee they’ll be successful. Sometimes, a brand is created by a brand—and then marketed to the customer. That’s when things can get interesting.
We spend most of our time surrounded by familiar things to us. But even though they may be familiar to us, we may not always feel great about them when we think about them. This is why we so often fall prey to advertising.
Brands that create products loved by others and that people feel a connection to can get inside our minds and connect to our emotions.
So, how can you harness the power of brand affinity? The key to doing so is to know your customer.
- Who are they?
- What do they care about?
- How do they act?
- What are their values?
As an entrepreneur, you probably already know some of these answers, but you may not know them well enough to make a difference in your marketing strategy.
The best marketers have access to data. You need to collect the information yourself to build a profile of your ideal customers. You then have to start looking at the data, asking yourself questions:
- Why are people buying this product?
- Is this product valuable to customers?
- Does it help my audience?
- Do they like this product?
And here’s an example: Imagine you’re a realtor selling a house to someone who’s thinking about moving to another city. The person might ask: Why should I buy this house? Or she might ask: How long has this house been on the market?
You can use the answers to these questions to tailor the product you’re offering.
The power of Brand Affinity is a decisive force that you can tap into to create an authentic brand identity for your product or service. The more you understand your audience and what they care about, the easier it will be to reach them.
1 – Build affinity with your audience
This is the trickiest part of the sales funnel because there’s no single best way to do it. The key is to understand the target audience and use that understanding to help build the brand and relationship.
Start with a series of questions that help you get to know your customers and how you can help them.
- What do they want to achieve?
- What are their aspirations?
- What are their hopes and dreams?
- What problems have they encountered in the past?
- What kind of advice do they need?
- Why should they choose you over your competitors?
People prefer to associate themselves with people and brands they like, and those brands are popular, well-respected, and have great stories. In essence, people want to be part of something.
Brands are similar in that they want to be associated with something positive, something they like, and something that is a part of something bigger than them.
2 – Find out who they are, what they want and why they love you
Now that we’ve established the importance of knowing our customers let’s dive into the following three steps.
Once you have your target audience figured out, you need to find out why they love you. Why do they like to interact with your brand online and offline? What are their interests, passions, hobbies, and favourite activities?
These are the things that will make them feel emotionally connected to you and ultimately bring them back to your site again. You can use this research to establish a brand affinity with your customer and start the customer journey.
According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, people who think they’re in good standing with brands are more likely to buy from them.
To test this theory, researchers presented participants with ads for a pair of jeans. The jeans ads were either presented to those customers who had a history of shopping for the brand or those who had no experience with the brand.
The study found that those loyal to the brand showed more brand awareness than those who hadn’t. And as the study continued, the participants who had an affinity for the brand showed a greater willingness to purchase the jeans than those who’d never bought the brand.
The lesson to take away: It’s wise to build brand loyalty—it doesn’t always have to start with a sale.
3 – Make them feel good about being part of your tribe
Whether in a retail space or an online store, the customer always comes first. This means that your tribe—your target audience—must come first. How? Through empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand your customers’ feelings, which allows you to better connect to them and understand them. By understanding your customer’s feelings, you can anticipate their needs and wants by putting yourself in their shoes.
If you are a retailer, you can offer the products your customers need and want. If you are an online merchant, you can personalise your site and blog posts to match your customers’ needs and desires.
One of the most potent ways to build affinity with a customer is to keep them happy and engaged. But there’s a fine line between being friendly and being pushy.
In the same way, you wouldn’t tell your friends that you’re doing poorly on a test; you don’t want to alienate your followers on social media. This doesn’t mean that you need to agree with them all the time or even like them.
Still, suppose you want to maintain positive, authentic relationships with your customers. In that case, you have to let them be who they are and give them the space to express themselves without feeling like you’re trying to manipulate them or change them into someone else.
4 – Develop a relationship with them
People don’t always trust brands because they’re not familiar with them, but they often do so because they feel that the brand has a good reputation. That’s one reason why businesses rely so heavily on advertising.
However, there is an entirely different approach that brands can take to gain customers’ trust: building a relationship with them. Tom Peters puts it as a business expert, “Brand affinity creates loyalty.”
Brands willing to establish relationships with their customers tend to have stronger, longer-lasting relationships with those customers.
To be successful in eCommerce, it’s critical to understand the value of being a customer. According to a survey conducted by eMarketer, 78% of online shoppers said they trust reviews from others more than ads and promotions.
So if you don’t want to appear as just another online retailer, you need to get involved in building relationships with your customers. You have to listen to them, engage them, and respond in a timely fashion. You have to be there for them whenever they need you.
5 – Understand your audience and their emotional needs
Brand affinity is the feeling consumers get when they connect with a brand. More specifically, they get positive feelings when they associate themselves with a particular product. And there’s a significant difference between how brands are viewed and how consumers view them.
The former often comes down to branding; the latter often comes down to emotion. When consumers have a brand affinity, they’re not always aware they’re doing so.
But they do feel positive emotions toward brands. They feel warm, fuzzy feelings. They experience a sense of connection and belonging. These are all positive feelings. They all contribute to brand loyalty and consumer advocacy.
6 – Create a strong sense of loyalty
I’m a massive fan of building brand affinity because it creates the foundation for other persuasive techniques. In other words, if you want to create a positive association with your brand, it’s essential to understand why people connect with your brand in the first place.
What motivates people to buy your products and services? Is it because of the company’s values, vision, mission, and purpose? If your answer to these questions is “yes,” you’ve got a solid foundation for creating brand affinity.
If consumers are loyal to a brand, they tend to perceive value in the products and services they purchase. If they are loyal to a brand, they are likely to have a favourable opinion of that brand, and they might even trust the brand, making them willing to be open to new ideas and opportunities.
7 – Make sure you have a unique selling proposition (USP)
In simple terms, USP is something your customers want, even if they don’t yet realise it. If someone were to ask your customers what they wanted from you, they’d likely come up with many things. USP gives you why your customer should choose you over any of your competitors.
You’ve likely seen brands associated with specific emotions or feelings, and you might feel like that’s what they’re selling. If you’re wondering if you should be using emotion to sell your business, this is an excellent place to start.
When you’re looking to sell products or services to your audience, think about how you can tie that product or service into the emotional world that your audience lives in.
8 – Communicate your brand on multiple platforms
Brands have come a long way since the days when all their advertising was print ads in newspapers, television commercials, and radio spots. Now, a company’s brand image is communicated through many mediums.
As a result, companies need to use different channels and messages, depending on what platform they’re using to communicate. For example, a brand might have a Facebook page promoting its newest products, but another social network focuses on user engagement and interaction.
These two channels, and all of the others, are part of a multi-platform strategy for a brand affinity campaign.
We’ve already seen how using multiple channels, such as email, social media, and SEO can help your business grow and increase sales.
But it’s not just about increasing your reach; it’s also about developing a consistent message across all platforms. This allows your business to build a brand, creating trust and building relationships with your audience.
9 – Engage in authentic dialogue
This is a bit of a tricky one to nail down. The idea is that if a consumer sees themselves in the brand’s conversation, they’ll feel more aligned with the brand than if the brand talked only about itself. Brands who have figured out this concept will find themselves with customers passionate about the company’s product or service.
In one of the more recent versions of its marketing book, Harvard Business School professor Gary Hamel talks about the need for a “culture of authenticity” in companies and their employees.
This means that all of the communications within a company should reflect the organisation’s values. This is a good thing because when employees see that their leaders are true to their core beliefs, they’re more likely to engage with their brand. It also means that you should view all interactions through the lens of authenticity.
10 – Use your brand as a powerful communication tool
Brands are a powerful force in our day-to-day lives, influencing us and our perception of ourselves. In some ways, brands have become part of who we are. Brands influence how we think about ourselves, our products and services, and even our political views.
The word “affinity” has a precise meaning in marketing, and it’s not the same as “like” or “love.” Brand affinity refers to a positive emotional connection people feel towards a brand based on the brand’s actions.
So if a customer loves your product because they like your personality, or you offer a particular service or solve a specific problem, they are more likely to choose your brand over any other competitor’s.
Many businesses have invested heavily in establishing an affinity via social media marketing. Those channels allow brands to communicate in a way that they simply couldn’t before.
When building your brand, the secret weapon is your unique story. People want to belong and find a purpose. They want to connect with people who have something in common and can empathise with what they’re going through. They want to know they’re not alone.
To build brand affinity, you need to tell your story authentically. You’ve probably heard the adage that people buy from people, not brands. When people see a company’s brand identity, they form an opinion.
They will form that opinion based on how the company presents itself, so it’s essential to create a strong brand identity and a message that resonates with consumers.
So the question is: What’s your brand’s secret weapon?
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