Brand Affinity: The Discipline of Choosing Who Loves Your Brand

brand affinity

Want Everyone to Love Your Brand? Think Again.

Don’t build a brand for everyone. Build a brand for the people who will become your most loyal and loving customers. You can’t be a match for everyone – especially if you’re at the earlier stages of growth. You don’t have the time, energy, or resources to successfully connect with such large, indistinct groups. A “let’s-make-everyone-love-us” mindset will only dilute what some people could really love about your brand.

When we work with clients on developing target audiences, they often want to become like Nike or Apple – a brand that almost everyone names as their favorite. Or they believe they can find some huge, untapped segment of the market that will go crazy for their product. However, these kinds of vast segmentation strategies fail more often than not. They cast nets that are much too wide. The groups are too big. The perfect customer is too vague. And in the quest to reach and satisfy everyone, those brands end up pleasing very few.

Create a Deep Connection with the Right People

We talk a lot about the value of emotionally-connected customers. It’s something we truly believe in as an agency, but it has also been proven time and time again. In fact, according to HBR, on a lifetime value basis, people who report an emotional connection to your brand will be twice as valuable as even your most “highly satisfied” customers. They will purchase more, visit more, spend more, engage more, recommend more, and trust more. Why? You make them feel something positive and unique that deepens their bond at every brand touchpoint.

So the question is not: “How many people can you make love your brand?” Instead, it’s “Which people will love your brand the most?” Focus on the people who can connect with you – emotionally and meaningfully – and go from there.

Consider these examples of companies who deepened brand affinity with the people who mattered most.

Finding the Sweet Spot: Amex

American Express introduced its first credit card in 1958. But in the early 1990s, competition intensified. The company had to reconsider its product line and its target customers in order to stay at the top. Credit cards had become commonplace. Amex (strategically) made the decision to not keep marketing to every person. Instead, they decided to focus on their most profitable customers – deepening the brand’s emotional connection with the people who already loved them. And they reaped the benefits.

They doubled-down on the “point junkies”: business executives who thrived on accumulating points from travel and hotels. Amex decided to reward these customers even more. They created the Rewards Gold Card in 1994 – a card with a higher annual fee, but double the reward points.

Point junkies loved it. In fact, by targeting this small but valuable group with a very specific offer, Amex converted even more people into point junkies.

The brand’s charge volume increased substantially and they outpaced all the competition. Not everyone loved them, but the people who mattered did.

Ease for Everyone: DocuSign

Now consider a different kind of example – a brand who started small and then cast its net wider. DocuSign, now the global leader in digital transaction management, started off with one simple goal: make it easier for real estate agents to get signatures and close deals.

Anyone who signs a document was a prospect for this company, yet they began with a targeted approach. From there, they’ve expanded to the enterprise segment and simultaneously expanded their service offerings. So even as they expand to different markets, DocuSign continues to deepen their relevance with the people who love them already.

Brand Affinity with the Right People

Think about your most profitable customers. The people you connect with best and the people who show the greatest loyalty and love for you today. How can you deepen the bond with them? How can you expand that core group or leverage them to attract others who will love you just as much? These are the types of questions you should be asking.

If you need help with segmentation strategies or increasing your brand affinity, please reach out.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco strategy and design agency.

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