Building a relationship with customers ensures a long and healthy mutually beneficial relationship. By defining what your brand truly stands for, its purpose and essence, its brand values and personality, you can now build a brand affinity with customers.
BRAND AFFINITY VS. BRAND LOYALTY IN A BRAND-LED WORLD
By delivering a brand that is far beyond just features, nice pictures, advertising or promotions... building and delivering brands that engage and connect with customers in relevant, authentic and engaging ways across all interactions, deeper, more impactful, engaging and emotional relationships and bonds are created.
And, over the longer term this brand affinity delivers significant value from a business as well as a brand perspective with regards to image, reputation and brand equity.
SO, WHAT DO WE REALLY MEAN BY BRAND AFFINITY?
Brand affinity describes customers who believe a particular brand shares common values and beliefs with them. These shared values and beliefs help build a relationship which tends to retain loyal customers for much longer.
All brand purchases are a mixture of an emotional, rational and behavioural decision. When a customer feels an affinity to a brand, the emotional aspect is more likely to play a part in the decision. Increasing emotional reasonings behind a purchase in the majority of times overrides more rational decisions.
Think of brands like Apple or Harley Davidson - while these brands stand for well understood attributes such as innovation, and freedom of personal expression, people often buy these brands because they identify with them and want them to be part of that shared identity. They perceive the brand as representing or complementing some highly personal aspect of their persona, their essence or their values - and believe being associated with these brands makes them more “cool” and fit in with their tribe.
HOW IS BRAND AFFINITY DIFFERENT TO BRAND LOYALTY?
Brand loyalty and brand affinity are often used interchangeably, and indeed they are similar.
However, someone can be loyal to a brand without feeling an affinity for that brand, simply because they believe it sells the best product. With brand loyalty, there is often no strong personal connection tying the customer to the brand. The customer is loyal to the brand because they perceive the brand to provide them with some value.
The perceived benefits of this value can keep customers loyal to the brand regardless of pricing or competitor actions. Customers who are loyal to a brand may remain loyal because they believe it offers the best experience and higher quality than the competition. However, it is a rational decision, rather than an emotional one. It can also be a behavioural decision, in that a customer might continue buying the same brand due to apathy, not loyalty. The difference between the two can be difficult for brands to understand. This habitual nature of a loyal purchase can be accentuated by so-called customer loyalty programs and ongoing promotions. Though, this connects customers to brands for only a finite amount of time.
Brand affinity helps accelerate building of customer loyalty, thereby making the process less expensive and time-consuming for marketers, advertisers and brands to successfully launch future products. Brand affinity is the most valuable, deep and enduring level of customer relationship, as there is a connection between brand and customer, as well as product and customer.