Apple, King Of Brand Loyalty

I, like millions of others, love Apple. Not just their products (though I love them too) but the Apple brand as a whole. People often cite Apple customers as having a relationship with the brand that borders on obsession. Apple logo tattooApple has created brand loyalty that many other brands aspire to. It is the kind of brand loyalty that has people waiting anxiously for new product announcements (guilty) or in some cases their commitment might extend to dramatic expressions of love for the brand – like getting a tattoo of the logo (not guilty). This type of devotion is extreme and it is extremely important to brands.

How does Apple or any brand create this type of loyalty?

Every customer’s journey with a brand starts the same. They have some encounter with a brand. Perhaps it’s an ad or other piece of marketing. Perhaps it’s a recommendation from a friend. More and more, it may be from something they saw or read on social media. However it happened, they became drawn to the brand.

If their experience is positive and the brand delivers on its promise, they will go further.  If they consistently find the brand delivers over time, the relationship strengthens and making it harder for competitors to even be considered.  Finally, they may get to the stage that the brand becomes an essential part of their life. This describes how many Apple customers feel about the brand.

Simply having a strong advertising campaign won’t create ambassadors who rave about your brand to others. A good deal this week won’t transform a user into a superfan next week.

According to a recent article by Entrepreneur magazine, the three characteristics of brand loyalty are constant innovation, happy employees and great customer service.

Apple certainly scores on the first point, as constant innovation is part of Apple’s DNA.
Apple store interior

While it may not be the first thing you consider in building brand loyalty, engaged employees have an impact on customers. According to a recent article from “Employers who are loyal to their workers have employees who are loyal in return. These employees then create loyal customers.” How does one create loyal employees? Engage them in the brand, treat them well and invest in them. According to the Entrepreneur magazine article, “Offer a fair and friendly work culture that encourages openness. Put in time and effort to train your employees in the latest skills, offer them benefits that surpass competition to keep them motivated and make them feel valued.”

Apple again hits the mark as they certainly value their employees and work hard to develop a strong internal brand culture. They even have their own in-house Apple University with training courses for staff, including a course “What Makes Apple, Apple.”

Finally, Apple is also known for incredible customer service. I can recall times when I would pop into an Apple store without any reason just to soak up the positive energy from the staff – who genuinely seem to be happy to be there and happy to help you. I found this to be true of Apple stores whether it was in Los Angeles, Philadelphia or even Manchester, England.  It is clear that engaged employees have helped Apple create loyal customers.

Apple fans waiting new productOnce you have a loyal customer, it certainly pays to keep them happy. According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, customer loyalty can be worth up to 10 times as much as a single purchase. A further statistic from Bain & Co. states that “a 5% increase in customer retention yields an increase in profits between 25%-100%”

Successful companies like Apple are able to build brand dependence where their customers feel connected to the brand in a deep and meaningful way.

To truly build brand loyalty like Apple, though, you need to build a strong brand in the first place. It all starts from understanding what makes your brand different from everybody else.  We call it getting out of the sea of sameness. Brands like Apple are built, cultivated and nurtured very deliberately. They go to work every day ready to challenge the status quo by creating innovative, beautifully designed products. And that solid brand foundation enables them to foster the kind of employee engagement that deepens customer loyalty.

Apple is a great example of how a differentiated brand provides a clear and defining reason for someone to do business with them…and keep doing business with them for life.