Many brands would do anything to reach the same level of fans that some clubs or sports teams have. Fans are the essence of the sport; Their passion, loyalty and enthusiasm have turned something that was born as entertainment into a real industry that moves billions of euros. Just like in the battles of the Middle Ages, the followers of a football club or a Formula 1 team, to give a couple of examples, are able to paint themselves in the colours of their teams, even tattoo them, driven by an enormous emotional connection.

This is a bond that is born of a basic instinct translated into the desire to belong, which is in equal parts a combination of an aspirational and an inspirational component; And it is precisely the main motivator behind each of his fans.

The brands of these clubs and teams share the same essence: they have been able to create pride of belonging, which ends up becoming a generation of fans, of people committed to the brand. Actually, sport and the real world (if we can call that the rest of the activities that occupy us every day) are not so distant. In sports, you have to get trophies to keep stoking the interest of fans. In the real world, you have to give customers a real reason to continue to believe and connect with the brand. It’s not that different. In any case, it is a race to see who gets there first, us or the competition, and who goes deeper, with the ability to generate the necessary connection to get authentic ambassadors for the brand.

To attract, convert, and retain customers, and turn them into brand advocates, you need to attract them first. Brand awareness is, then, the first link in this chain. Brand awareness represents the degree to which potential customers recognize a brand and correctly associate it with a particular product or service. It takes a step further to mere brand awareness. It involves the remembrance not only of the name or a logo, but also links it to a specific perception. When a company has a high level of brand awareness, it means that it is already provoking feelings and emotions in customers. This is important because it helps the audience understand, remember, and feel comfortable with the brand and its products.

From there, you can funnel customers through a funnel that goes through several progressive levels: notoriety, respect, appreciation, trust, and finally, the coveted admiration that is the basis of Brand Engagement.

Brand Engagement involves completing a relational cycle that moves the brand from the transactional terrain to a terrain of value exchange.

Brands that learn to “engage” with their customers are much better positioned for sustained, long-term success. Simply because Brand Engagement leads to loyalty, facilitates recommendation, and is at a word-of-mouth level that no brand can afford.

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3 Tips to Increase Customer Engagement

  1. Humanize the brand. One of the best ways to increase customer engagement is to humanize the brand. That is, to evolve from a model based on iconographic identity to one focused on relational identity. Brands that establish conversations, that behave according to values that coincide with those of their customers, that respond… Even brands that take on a human appearance thanks to technology and artificial intelligence.
  2. Create personalized experiences. Today, technology facilitates the management of information in favor of much more personalized experiences. Not only a birthday greeting is enough, but the use of data allows us to offer each customer experiences tailored to their preferences.
  3. Listen to your audience. Customers want to be heard. Fortunately, listening is easy. You should keep an eye on their social media profiles and take into account what is being said on them. This involves being proactive and responding directly to their questions and concerns, if only to acknowledge that they’ve been heard, logically implementing changes based on what you’re hearing.

Perhaps Apple or Harley Davidson are two great paradigms of Brand Engagement, but many others have been able to adapt their way of thinking to incorporate strategies that increase customer engagement and admiration. Let’s take a couple more examples: Netflix and Ikea.

Netflix

Tech giant Netflix has never stopped trying to outpace customer demand. Just look at his most recent turn of events stepping into the role of producer. Thanks to a heavy investment in algorithms and audience analytics, Netflix has been able to offer an on-demand service that is unique to each viewer. As its director of global communications explains, there are now “33 million different versions of Netflix.”

Ikea

One of the best examples of customer engagement that retailers can learn from is Ikea’s effort to bring the in-store experience online. It has been an early adopter of technologies such as video chat and augmented reality. In addition, its “Ikea Place” augmented reality app allows customers to virtually interact with the company’s online catalog, making it easier for them to imagine how the new furniture will fit into their homes. As Gillian Drakeford, Country Retail Manager at Ikea, suggests, “People want human interaction… It’s what we’ve always done, but now it’s improved with technology and expertise.”

But let’s keep in mind that Brand Engagement is not something that only applies to external audiences, but also – and initially – to internal audiences. If a company’s employees don’t believe in the brand and aren’t motivated enough to connect with it, the result is the same as that of an unmotivated football team: zero wins.

Brand ambassadors are far more valuable than any advertising you can buy. In this context, the need to retain and attract talent is the same as the need to go abroad chasing fans and attracting customers. It is a process that is based on three main pillars:

  • The purely economic ones
  • Those linked to personal development
  • Psychological

Once the first two have been assumed, everything revolves around the third, which is completely intangible. Generating commitment, promoting it and building loyalty goes far beyond the expected fulfillment of the functions attributed to each one. It is a complete immersion in the culture of the brand so that a total involvement of all employees with the corporate strategy is achieved, giving each one the necessary participation to achieve the proposed objectives together.

Brands need to use multiple resources to achieve their goals, always providing value: meaning, conversations, experiences… Mere notoriety is not synonymous with preference. Real emotional engagement with the brand is the point at which people find in the brand someone (and not something) who knows how to meet their interests and demands.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward