What Is a Passion Brand?
A passion brand is a brand consumers have an emotional connection with and want to be identified with by their peers, rather than a brand that consumers purchase purely out of habit. Building a passion brand means strong brand loyalty. Your company and its products/services turn your customers into advocates as they become personally invested in your brand.
Examples of passion brands include Apple, Google, Nike, Spotify, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. When you think of each of these companies, think about how you interact with them, or how your friends and family interact with them. People can be so passionate about buying all Apple products, or going out of their way to get their daily drink from Starbucks.
This is what you’re wanting to build. You’re wanting to create a passion brand that inspires brand loyalty.
Why Is Brand Loyalty Important?
Okay, so brands like Apple and Starbucks thrive off of the passionate fan base. But does that really matter for the average consumer or brand?
Yes! In today’s business arena, there’s tons of competition. Because of modern technology and social media, the ability to discover brands has changed, and the ability to connect with your audience has changed. In short, the landscape of competition has completely changed.
New customer acquisition costs money and time, partially because there’s so many avenues you need to keep up with to compete with others: blogging, Facebook, Google ads, Instagram, LinkedIn, radio spots, SEO, social ads, TikTok, TV ads, and YouTube just to name a few.
Recent data has found retaining customers is about 5 to 7 times cheaper than recruiting new customers. Customer retention requires less resources and less money spent on marketing campaigns for new customers. Plus, you can take advantage of potential upselling or cross-selling. Studies show that existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new customers.
Passion Brand Take Home Exercise
Every industry is different as to why consumers choose one over the other. You will need to ask yourself what matters to your consumer base. Is it consistency? Quality? Customer service? Rewards?
A good exercise you can do at home is to pick a passion brand that you are loyal to and start brainstorming a list of all the reasons why you are loyal to that brand.
Once you have compiled that list, consider your own brand you are wanting to build. Who do you want to attract and what do they care about? What qualities can you include from the passion brand you love in your own business?
Tips for Building Brand Loyalty
#1: Don’t Be Afraid of Being Polarizing
Once you determine what will make you stand out and inspire brand loyalty, it’s important to stay true to it. When you stand behind what you offer, you will start to attract the right people and those people will become your brand loyalists.
Think about brands like Apple and Samsung. Some people love Apple while some love Samsung. These brands aren’t afraid to be polarizing. In fact, they thrive under the energy of all-or-nothing. You either love Apple, or you don’t. Sure, they might lose a few people by being true to themselves and their brand, but they will inspire even more to stay loyal to their brands. So don’t be afraid to take a stance.
#2: Show Your Brand Personality
When it goes to showing brand personality, look no further than the recent marketing campaigns from the oat milk brand Oatly. They put up a billboard in Times Square saying, “What would be weirder than buying a giant billboard to promote a free newsletter about an oatmilk?” And then the second beside it stated, “Buying two.”
Their creative director for the campaign explained, “Don’t fear being criticized. Fear being ignored.” I loved the quirky nature of this campaign. Oatly wasn’t aiming for newsletter signups. They wanted conversations. They were aiming to be different in a category that is very much the same.
#3: Pay to Your Strengths and Standards
If you have core values central to who you are and your mission, hone in on them. One example is a campaign by Patagonia. They put out an advertisement that stated, “Don’t buy this jacket.” The whole concept behind the campaign was to promote mindful shopping and encourage more companies to produce high quality clothing. This all goes back to their core values of sustainability and minimizing consumerism. Values that certain consumers can relate to and can lead to a passion brand.
Think of consumers you’re trying to attract and what matters to them. It might relate back to your product or services, and it might not. But play to your strengths and standards because people will take notice, and will want to support you because of what you stand for.
#4: Show Up on Social Media
Social media is a necessary evil these days. People spend hours of their week on social media, and even use social media as a search engine to find everything from local wineries to wedding photographers. 1 in 3 people use social media to learn about or discover new products, services, and brands. Consistently showing up and posting on whatever platform is how you build an audience. If you want your brand to grow, you need to be active on social platforms.
Sometimes, social media can jumpstart otherwise dead-in-the-water brands. One example is Stanley, who was given new life through influencers on social media. Now, Stanley is up 300% year over year for sales and has cult followers. I personally am guilty of owning lots of Stanley cups in different colors, and that’s the norm for their consumer base. They used social media to find their target market and through influencers and user generated content (UGC) have only grown more and more.
#5: Encourage Customer Feedback
If you want to really become a passion brand, you need to listen to both the good and the bad from customers. Nowadays, word-of-mouth marketing, reviews, and referrals play a bigger role than ever in sales. 93% of users say online reviews had an impact on their buying decision. And 81% of consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses. Consumers want to learn from other people’s experiences before trusting you enough with their own business.
This is also where user generated content (UGC) is huge for brands. This is typically unpaid testimonials on social media from loyal fans of your brand. You want to create an environment and culture where consumers are wanting to spread the word about your company. This is where you will really see the most success.
#6: Create a Customer Loyalty Program
Another way to inspire brand loyalty is to get people coming back for more. 80% of consumers say loyalty programs make them likely to continue business with a company. When you offer your customers something they can’t get anywhere else, they will flock to you to receive the unique experience you offer.
Think of companies you interact with frequently and their customer loyalty programs. Some examples in my life are Capital One and Kohl’s. I love the rewards I get from Capital One Venture Card to use toward travel, which is why I often recommend Capital One to friends and family. The same goes for Kohl’s. I find myself going to Kohl’s to use up my Kohl’s Cash I earn overtime. These may not seem big, but they go a long way toward creating a passion brand.
#7: Be Adaptable
The last bit of advice I have is to be adaptable. You may need to pivot or do hard left turns to keep up with the times. Or, you may need to follow the latest trends in marketing or social media to compete in the market. It’s good to stay true to yourself and your brand, but there’s a way to do that while being adaptable. Being stuck in the way of doing things can stop you from your next big marketing campaign or sales influx.
One great example is DoorDash. Since the pandemic, now more than ever people love convenience. DoorDash has taken advantage of that desire and emerged as a go-to service in people’s everyday lives. Think about how you can save your customers time or what unique service you can provide in today’s world. Being flexible to fit the market makes all the difference in conversion.
Building a passion brand can take time. The big time companies like Nike and Starbucks didn’t get that way overnight. They implemented many of these tactics little by little until they grew into a household name.
As you work to build a passion brand with consumers loyal and excited about what you do, remember to be kind to yourself. Think of how you’re doing right now is better than yesterday, and you will grow even more in the next five years. Just take it one step at a time, with small changes along the way. Try to be better, reevaluate, and come back and learn from the day before. After all, building a passion brand starts with the people behind the brand name.