Nov 15, 2012

What Makes A Brand Sticky

Not every business can have a sticky brand. Actually, they’re pretty hard to come by. Growing a sticky brand requires a lot of moving parts coming together to create a remarkable business: strategy, people, products, service, execution, hardwork, and commitment.

But as hard as it is to achieve a sticky brand, it’s absolutely worth striving for.

Companies that achieve stickiness—think of brands like Starbucks, Apple, Nordstroms, Zappos or even the Chrysler Minivan—gain more market share, higher profits and much higher revenues. For example, Chrysler pioneered the minivan category in the mid-80’s, and went 16 years with no significant competition and sold over 12 million units. Or Apple, who is obviously sticky, is now the biggest company in the United States.

Having a sticky brand delivers significant financial benefits.

But from a small-to-mid size business perspective, what does it mean to achieve a sticky brand? There are 4 key customer related goals to strive for:

1. Your customers understands you

What makes your business unique? What do you do better than anyone else? And does your market get it?

Developing market understanding requires purpose. It’s about purposefully focusing on what you do really well, honing and developing those assets, and communicating them to the world. This is your point of differentiation. And it has to be widely understood.

2. Your customers choose you first

We live in a world of choice. Invest a little time on Google or Bing, and you can find virtually anything.

The problem with too much choice is it erodes brand loyalty. Customers know if a vendor doesn’t satisfy their needs, they can go somewhere else. And sometimes, they’ll go to the competition just for a chance to try something new.

Growing a sticky brand helps you rise above the fray. Your customers understand what makes you unique and why your services are excellent, and they seek them out first when they have a need. Their comfort and trust in your company minimizes their need to shop around.

3. Your customers come back again-and-again

Selling a customer once is not a sticky relationship. The stickiness occurs through repeat exposures. Your customers have an interest and loyalty to your services, and “choose you first” regularly.

Apple’s customers line up for hours to get their latest products. There’s an energy and excitement to get their products. That’s a great repetitive customer. Zappo’s customers come back again-and-again, because they have great products and the service is exceptional.

How can you foster and nurture relationships so your clients come back to you again-and-again?

4. Your customers brag about you

A brand isn’t sticky if no one is talking about it. Sticky brands have buzz. Their customers are excited about them, and they talk about them.

You don’t have to work in a sexy business to generate buzz. Buzz happens by satisfying your customers’ needs, and giving them a reason to talk about you. They refer your services, because they know you’ll do great work. They’ll tell their friends about you, because it’s exciting to work with you and your team.

Buzz is a question of energy. If people are excited to work with you, they’ll talk about you.

Growing a sticky brand is a choice

Sticky brands don’t happen by accident. Their built, nurtured and invested in. And they’re not built overnight. Starbucks, Apple and Zappos all had to innovate and work hard to grow into the businesses they are today. They all began life as startups with entrepreneurs who had a dream.

You can grow your own sticky brand. It all starts with your decision to go for it.

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