In today's heavily overcrowded marketplace, clear, consistent, and recognizable branding can give your store the edge it needs to grow its customer base. At every opportunity, it's important to communicate your brand message to consumers if you want to interest them in shopping at your store.
Conveying your brand and showing consumers what your business is all about--from the products and services you sell to the values you stand for--isn't as straightforward as it sounds. In this article, we'll go over the best store branding practices and how implementing a customer loyalty rewards program can become the most effective strategy to brand your retail store.
Why should building brand loyalty be the central focus of your marketing efforts? Establishing revenue growth is all about increasing brand awareness. As it turns out, brand awareness is the greatest determining factor that consumers use when making the decision to shop at a particular store. Customers will sooner purchase from a brand that they've heard of than from one they're unfamiliar with.
When you think "brand loyalty", the goal to remember is that you want consumers to patronize your retail store over all of the others. The benefit of focusing on increasing brand loyalty is that once you've established it, you won't need to continue to convince your brand-loyal customers to keep shopping at your store. You also won't need to heavily market to them. Once they're locked in, they will be loyal.
The good news is that research has shown that locking consumers into brand loyalty with your store takes at least three purchases, and after this three-purchase benchmark, about 80% of customers considered themselves "brand loyal". Those are remarkably good odds.
So how can you encourage, incentivize, and entice consumers to shop their way to brand loyalty at your store? There is an abundance of marketing strategies and tactics to accomplish this, but today we're going to focus on amplifying your customer loyalty rewards program to powerfully promote expanded brand awareness and loyalty at your store.
YOUR UNIQUE STORY IS YOUR BRAND MESSAGE
As we mentioned earlier, no matter what specific retail industry your store falls within, it's safe to say that the market is flooded. This isn't the only challenge to overcome. These days, consumers are immune to all types of advertising. They have become comfortable tuning out and letting their eyes glaze over. Why? People are searching for products at the best prices and are determined not to become distracted by flashy graphics and catchy slogans.
But this doesn't mean you have no way of setting your store apart. Rather than focusing on acquiring new customers with digital marketing tactics, your time and branding efforts would be better spent crafting your store's unique story.
What are the values of your business and how do you implement and highlight those values at your store? Share these values with your customers via your customer loyalty rewards program. You can communicate your brand story on your loyalty platform, which will strengthen the relationship between your customers and your store. How? Every communication action, from welcome emails to rewards incentives, is an opportunity to convey your store's unique story and the values that have been shaped in your brand's ethos because of it.
A powerful way to communicate your unique story is by creating an equally unique "voice" for your brand that strongly represents the character of your store. Make sure this "voice" captures the sentiment of your store and is appropriate for your customers. For example, if you own a childrens' toy store, it would not be appropriate for your store's branded "voice" to sound like a Shakespearean monologue. Once you establish an appropriate, relatable, and approachable "voice", be sure to implement it across all of your marketing channels online, including your website, as well as throughout your loyalty rewards program materials, emails, notifications, and updates.
CREATE A SPECIAL IDENTITY FOR YOUR LOYALTY MEMBERS
If you've created and implemented a strong "voice" for your brand, and have revamped your online and in-store presence using it, then it's time to take your store's unique values and voice one step further by encouraging your loyalty members to take on that brand persona, too. What does this mean?
Just like your store has a unique brand, your loyalty rewards program shares that unique brand, but unlike common consumers that stop and shop only once at your store, your loyalty members have earned a special place in the "club" of your store. Give your loyalty program members a store-brand identity to embrace. Doing so will excite and engage them into boasting about your brand and becoming brand ambassadors naturally.
A great place to start is by creating a clever name for your store's loyalty program as well as the loyal members. These names should resonate with your store's name in a catchy way and also characterize the values and personality of your entire brand. With respect to brand awareness, you'll also want to be sure the names are recognizable so that the loyalty program itself attracts brand-new members passively. For example, if you own a pet supply store called Purfect Pets, your loyalty program might be called Paw Points and your members could be categorized by the degree to which they are loyal, such as Baby Bunnies, Cool Cats, Dedicated Dogs, and Loyal Lions.
Once you've crafted an on-brand member identity that your loyalty customers can latch onto, the next step is to build an integrated, on-brand loyalty page. This is the place where your new loyalty members and also perusing customers can go to check out everything that your store's loyalty program has to offer. This loyalty landing page will showcase the on-brand melding of your store's unique story, voice, and personality. Keep the overall look consistent with your original store brand and this will elevate the shopping experience in a memorable, effective, and engaging way that inspires your customers to return and shop again and again.
SURPRISE & DELIGHT LOYAL CUSTOMERS
Now that you've built a solid foundation for your store's loyalty program brand, it's time to focus on the most powerful strategies to keep members engaged and shopping to earn and burn rewards points. Have you heard the term "surprise and delight" in reference to customer loyalty programs? This strategy isn't more complicated than it sounds and it is a powerful way to strengthen the emotional connection between your store's brand and your customers. Best of all, the surprise and delight strategy can also be used to increase overall brand awareness for your store.
The basic premise behind "surprise and delight" is to give loyalty members unexpected perks and gifts that are clearly branded with your store's brand. When members receive these surprises, their delight overflows to the extent that they rave about your brand to their family, friends, and anyone on social media who will listen. Happy customers are typically inclined to share their positive experiences.
If you would like specific ideas as to how you can surprise and delight your loyalty members, we can get your started. Try giving your loyalty members a secret hashtag to use when posting on social media. With each hashtagged post, allocate a set amount of bonus points. Your loyalty members will be incentivized to talk about your brand on social media in order to earn bonus loyalty points, which means that you will have brand ambassadors supplying virtually free marketing for your store. This quickly becomes a win-win situation for both of you! Likewise, you can offer bonus rewards for a full range of online content sharing. Get creative! If members know they can rack up extra points for sharing your blogs, videos, and social media posts, and also for reviewing your store and specific products you sell, it won't be difficult to suddenly generate a healthy buzz online for your store and brand!
Taking the concept of surprise and delight one step further, you can also experiment with pre-emptively surprising loyalty members with in-store experiences they hadn't expected. For example, if you own a hair salon, alerting a set amount of loyalty members to a free styling consultation gift could lead to those members raving about the positive experience all over the internet. This is a fun way to surprise your customers out of the blue and also attract new customers to your store. Who wouldn't want to join the rewarding community when fun surprises are a part of the store's culture and brand?
INTEGRATE YOUR LOYALTY PROGRAM INTO YOUR STORE'S BRAND
Now comes the fun part. After implementing the ideas we've presented so far in this article, you will probably find a surge in loyalty activity within your customer rewards program. You wouldn't want the success that you're experiencing there to stay isolated. It's time to integrate your loyalty program branding into your store's brand as it appears both in-store and online. Here are valuable tips to match your loyalty branding to your store branding so that every consumer that comes across your store becomes interested in joining your customer loyalty rewards program.
- SHOW OFF WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE: You've already powerfully established what makes your store and story unique, and you used this message in your branding by implementing a "voice" that captures your store's essence. Even better, you've had at least a few loyalty program successes and "winners"--especially those "surprise and delight" members who appreciated the gift you gave them. You can now use these examples of happy customers for your in-store signage, being sure to strongly brand these with your loyalty rewards program and easy sign-up instructions. Interested customers will ask at the register or sign-up online or in-app.
- CREATE A LOYALTY CURRENCY: And of course, market this new on-brand, store-only currency on all of your signage! In 2020, the word "points" is worse than boring. It's downright impersonal! Yes, we are guilty of having used that term throughout this article, but that's because it's standard marketing industry terminology, not because we recommend you do the same. Instead, come up with a clever name, just as you cleverly named your rewards program and the different levels of loyalty that members can earn their way into. The trick here is to name the "points" with established values that relate to your store's overall brand. For example, with the pet supply retail store from before, their "currency" could be called "bones", and once a member accumulates 1,000 bones, for instance, they could then earn a "game of fetch" or a "walk around the block", which could represent eligibility into a new rewards game where they could win special prizes. People love games!
- HOLD SPECIAL IN-STORE EVENTS FOR MEMBERS ONLY: Nothing gets a consumer to want "in" like asserting exclusivity that appears to keep them out at first. It's human psychology that people want what they think they can't have. If you use red velvet ropes to wall off the entrance of your store and only allow loyalty members in, even if you only do this for a two-hour window of time, you will gain attention, generate buzz, and get non-members asking the right kinds of questions. Whether you're rewarding certain loyalty members for having reached a high level of loyalty--all those Loyal Lions!--or you're reinvigorating inactive members with a special holiday sale that only loyal customers are invited to, if you place clear and on-brand signage outside of your store, everyone passing by will know exactly what they're missing out on… And they'll want to sign up to join the rewards program.
Building brand loyalty by focusing on powerfully branding your customer loyalty rewards program will have a positive, long-term impact on your store. Creating dedicated brand ambassadors for your store, otherwise known as very happy loyalty members, is the most effective way to increase brand awareness and attract all kinds of customers to your store.
The more consistent your branding, the less hard-selling and costly marketing you'll have to do. Just remember, the best branding will capture your story, values, and voice, while offering your loyalty members incredible surprises and experiences that they won't be able to stop talking about.
If you would like personalized and in-depth help with structuring your loyalty rewards program, the loyalty strategists at Loyal~n~Save are ready to speak with you. Powerfully rebranding your store and customer loyalty rewards program is just one phone call away! For more informative marketing and branding articles, visit the Loyal~n~Save blog.
This article was written by Loyal-n-Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.