Collective: Why spend on branding? Ask Apple.
How do you justify spending funds on Branding and Brand Loyalty, when you can use those funds to create sales tools and tactics to get immediate return on investment?
Well ask Apple – the first company ever to be valued at a TRILLION dollars! (I’m not even sure how many zeros that is.) Of course in the beginning it was all about innovation, but the mega brand that Apple is today demonstrates brand loyalty at its best. How many brands do you know that have consumers lining up for days waiting for a new release? Goes without saying that they need to continue to innovate and deliver new products to satisfy the hungers of their tech savvy loyalists, but they could probably produce Apple Water and have avid fans stocking up.
Smart marketers toy with this concept annually during planning and budgeting, when trying to balance the marketing spend on brand loyalty vs tactical whilst achieving their set KPI’s for the business (where there is often no mention of tracking awareness, loyalty or brand perceptions in the market).
Brand loyalty is hard to define and measure, thus making it hard to evaluate. Sure you can do market research, both qualitative and quantitative and measure changes in brand awareness and loyalty, but consumers can be brand loyal subconsciously through influencers, imitation, brand association, learnings and life experiences which can create a pre disposed affinity for certain brands.
Based on the *Theory of Multidimensional Brand Loyalty, – brand loyalty is defined as a positive biased tendency with 3 distinct dimensions:
- The first dimension is the emotive tendency toward a brand (how does the brand make you feel?). This is often learned through previous experience or from nonexperiential information. Brand Ambassadors and sponsorship can have a huge impact here by way of association.
- The 2nd dimension is the evaluative tendency toward the brand. That is, the biased opinion based on a set of criteria which are relevant to the consumer.
- The 3rd dimension of brand loyalty is the behavioural tendency towards the brand. This refers to the consumer experience of purchasing and consuming e.g. searching, shopping, the buying and sales process. Attitudes can be formed from previous experience, reviews, peers etc.
So, having said that, Brand Strategy must lead Marketing Strategy when budgeting and planning execution. Developing a strong brand vision created around the target audience and potential growth opportunities, sets the foundation for Marketing Strategies and activities. Developing an insight into the consumer, their behaviour, influencers and environment will allow for a more tailored communications message.
A focus on delivering the brand promise at every touchpoint will create the emotional connection and positive bias towards your brand thus stimulating loyalty and future brand equity.
References: Theory of Multidimensional Brand Loyalty – J Sheth & Park. University of Illinois