Apple brand

How to Keep Loyal Customers – Branding Strategy

Your brand is what distinguishes your product from your competitor’s. Most branding strategy revolve around the message of “Why Us?” supported by a plethora of reasons why your product(s) are superior within the market. But with thousands of brands yelling similar messages at each consumer, merely branding yourself and promoting that brand is not enough. You need to keep your consumers loyal, giving them a reason to stay with you or otherwise make them unwilling to switch to different options. How do you do that?

  1. You keep your costumers completely satisfied – there is no need to try different options
  2. You give customers ongoing incentives – give your customers more reason to buy from you
  3. You keep them reliant on your product – increase investment to the point where they would not want to leave you

We describe some of the strategies used to keep your consumers satisfied with your brand, so that you can continue strengthening the brand experience.

Enter Apple.

If you tuned in to Apple’s live stream yesterday, you were likely using Safari on an Apple product. It makes sense that Apple fans would watch an Apple stream using an Apple product-but is this really by their own choice? Apple has been restricting their live stream to limited browsers for years now. In fact, this is the first year that Apple has allowed viewers to tune in via a Windows product (albeit through the limited Edge browser via the new Windows 10)! The live stream would not support Google Chrome, and was otherwise limited to Apple products in as many ways as possible.

Apple has shown time and time again that they want to be exclusive. But their main strategy is to encompass nearly all aspects of the consumer’s life with Apple products. Take iTunes for example. iTunes is deeply loved or hated, depending on who you talk to; the platform is only useful for Apple products and will be a nightmare to use otherwise. And yet, the iCloud system makes migration seamless across all the different Apple products. If you wanted a cloud system, there are tons of options out there…but why not just use the built-in iCloud? Why not use iTunes? or iCal?

Apple is a master of keeping is core customers contained within its proprietary software, increasing their investment until they would rather not switch to an alternative.

1. Keep Customers Satisfied – Decreasing the need to switch

“There’s an App for that” is a very apt tagline-Apple simply wants to encompass every aspect of the customer’s electronic usage. With products that sync and work with each other so seamlessly and perform so many different functions, Apple simply wants to lock in its consumers with a suite of products that simply fulfill all their needs. By having all these options and more at your feet, Apple hopes to lock you out of needing to switch to an alternative.

2. Ongoing Incentives – Increasing the exclusivity

Starbucks has a loyalty program to lock in its core customers. While Apple doesn’t have a similar program, it rewards its customers in a different way: exclusivity. Exclusive Apps, a highly-toted brand name, a line of accessories that are more for fashion than function, the list goes on for ways that Apple tries to keep its brand as premium as possible. With every new accessory, Apple fans are buying in to the brand, which is rewarding in its own way.

3. Switching Costs – Increasing the need to stay

With each product purchased, Apple increases the switching cost of an existing user. The threat of migrating all your files from the iCloud to a different server, or from iTunes to a new music platform, keeps customers at bay from switching.

In a nutshell, Apple’s strategy is to create a product that is rewarding in its own way through style, simplicity and fashion. Once invested, a whole suite of options become accessible for the customer, giving them few reasons to switch. And even if they wanted to switch, they should hopefully have become so invested that they would not want to switch at all!

This whole system is a positive feedback for Apple, but stems from one key point: Keeping customers happy. You can increase switching costs or introduce incentives to your brand, but if you don’t keep your customers happy then you won’t have the client base to begin with. Loyalty stems from happiness. It’s that simple!

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