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How to Uncrate Your Customers

Do you worry about brand loyalty?

“We have the best product in our space, and our competitors are not what you would call ‘sophisticated’ with their brands. Why do we need to worry about ours?”

Why do you need to worry about your brand, even when everything is going well? There are a few reasons.

First, it’s important to agree on what we mean by “brand.” Your brand is the emotional connection that your employees build with your customers to make them want to continue working with you. Your brand strategy is how you go about creating and solidifying that connection. I’m a dog person, so I think of customers as new puppies just home from the pound.

In the beginning puppies need leashes, crates, and fences so they don’t wander away at the first tantalizing smell, squeak, or snack. They also need love. Once they truly feel that bond and your relationship with them solidifies, they are more likely to stay by your side without the need for tethers or constraints. Granted, even the best-trained pooches will sometimes wander away, but they’re much less likely to leave altogether and are almost certain to come back. Were it not for your continued love and support from the very beginning, they would be long gone at the first opportunity.

A superior product and weak competitors can act like leashes and crates, leaving your customers with no other option but to choose you. Once those constraints are gone, they too will be long gone. How do you know:

  • Your product will always be the best in your space?
  • You know that space won’t change?
  • You know that a competitor’s brand won’t suddenly develop sophistication?

Guess what: you don’t. So before the tethers, constraints, and unfaithful companions upon which you are depending vanish, it’s time to solidify your brand. It’s time to show them your love, now and forever.

What to Do

Beyond engendering a loyalty to rival that of man’s best friend, there are other important reasons to make certain your brand house is in order:

  • Focus and efficiency: When everyone in an organization works toward the same brand, there are fewer detours, tangents, and distractions. People do not waste time going back and forth debating core beliefs and approaches that a strong brand strategy would dictate from the beginning.
  • Innovation: A relationship is a two-way street, and as your customers become closer to you, you will become closer to them. That means you will see their changing needs sooner than your competitors who are only working with them on the sidelines.
  • Employee engagement: When employees are committed to their company’s brand, they are more than twice as likely to stay at work late if something needs to be done after the normal workday ends. Additionally, they are more than twice as likely to help someone if they don’t ask for help, and more than three times as likely to do something good for the company unexpectedly. (Source: Temkin Group).
  • Talent attraction and retention: With strong brands, it’s easier to recruit and retain the best talent. Making a career move is an important decision for all of us — one made easier when the employer brand is a well-known entity. Plus, employees at strong brands are more than five times as likely to recommend that a friend or relative apply for a job there.
  • Leadership: With a strong brand — not just market share, because that can be fleeting — the rest of your industry and those tangential to it will see you as a leader in the space. They will also be more likely to seek you out for partnerships, joint ventures, or more.

Don’t look at your brand and its strategy as something you only need when times are tough. Think of your brand and brand strategy as how you keep the good times coming. You shouldn’t treat your customers or employees like dogs. Treat them like they are your best friends, and they too will keep coming.

— Douglas Spencer

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