Gain Undying Loyalty by Building a Company Customers Love

Every person has go-to brands for the things they buy – from their car and their phone to their coffee, cosmetics, or slippers.

And behind every brand is a company people know and love. When you want to attract people to your brand, it starts with building the personality of your business. Successful companies give people hope or a vision: their brands represent a cultivation of we could be.

Whether this is honest and pure or fun and funky, the brands we champion are an expression of our better selves.

Unique in a Sea of Monotony

Lululemon is a global sportswear powerhouse with a meteoric rise to success.

Founded in 2000, the company bounded into a crowded market and built a niche as a “lifestyle” fitness brand, offering clothes that perform excellently in the gym while looking great outside of it.

Lululemon knows that, beyond upgrading their health and hygiene habits, maturing women are ready to spend more on their wardrobes. And brand evangelists (the ‘Luluheads’) rave about clothes that flatter the figure, add color and sass, and hold their shape after 1,000 washes. Lulu’s target customer is a 32-year-old woman who has “figured it out” after graduating from the unhealthy lifestyle choices of her twenties, and Lulu inspires women to connect with their best selves using taglines like “Be You with Lulu” and “Slimming Silhouettes is Lululemon.”

While Lululemon’s outrageously priced clothes seem like an impossible sell, they are anything but. Instead, they make women feel proud to show up at the gym and allow sweaty moms to look cool at the grocery store. And that psychology works.

After all, it’s not men women are trying to impress – it’s other women.

Designing Your Customer Experience

Moving beyond strong marketing, customer experience is where the rubber meets the road.

Clients that adore your services should feel that doing business with you is like coming home. Here are three ways to make that happen.

1. Craft Excellent First Encounters

If you want to develop a strong bond with clients, a great first experience is key.

Consumer Reports surveys show that nearly 91 percent of customers will not return if a company botches the initial encounter, and two-thirds of people will walk out of a store when they feel the service is subpar.

While those statistics sound scary, the opposite is also true: top-notch companies are highly successful in customer care. Recent data shows that 81 percent of companies with excellent service records are outperforming their competition.

2. Offer Self Help Options

While five-star personal service seems like the gold standard in sales, that may be changing. Today 40 percent of consumers say they prefer “no-frills” self-service over tangible human contact, so smart companies should add simple DIY options.

How? Educational content such as newsletters, tutorial videos, or “how-to” tip sheets might be a good option for some. Perhaps live chat support, FAQ pages, or express product lines will bring convenience your clients appreciate. Web-based service portals may allow you to personally interact with customers while offering the flexibility and privacy they desire.

3. Prioritize Quality Over Speed

When you DO have personal contact with clients, slowing down can be the best approach.

According to Gallup’s research, the service is defined as “courteous, willing, and helpful.” (In contrast, customers who received “speedy” service were just six times more likely to be engaged.)

Making Brand Admiration a Reality

When people love a company, they’ll go out of their way to recommend it to friends.

They take pride in its products, purchase more frequently, and give it a second chance when mistakes occur. By building a business that customers love, your reputation will thrive, and your sales will too.

How the Best Leaders Embrace a Results-Based Perspective

More than 40 years ago, Dale Miller conducted a study that compared two groups of executives.

One group was identified by their colleagues as highly effective and ready for promotion. Individuals in the other group initially seemed promising but were later deemed unready for an advanced role.

During evaluation, each group received a deck of 62 statements describing management behavior and was asked to sort the statements on most effective versus least effective leadership qualities. After the first group finished sorting, the top behavior they selected was this: “accepts full responsibility for the performance of the work unit.” This phrase was chosen above delegation, staffing, time-management, or even technical skills.

The primary difference between these groups? Those primed for high-level leadership took full ownership over the team, its cohesiveness, and final project outcomes.

Practical Ways to Practice Personal Responsibility

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Many people who enter management are willing to accept the benefits of their position without fully embracing the pain points of this role.

Modern society often views leadership as self-serving, with the needs and desires of the individual taking priority over those of the team. But effective leadership primarily benefits the followers, not the leader. People who put the team’s needs above their own will achieve maximum influence and increase efficiency and effectiveness in their organization.

What does it look like to embrace a results-based perspective in your leadership? Ultimately, this starts with a mindset that says, “I am the person who must make this happen.” This goes beyond merely completing a task to a wholehearted commitment to the company’s best interests, including doing things for which there is no immediate reward. Do you turn off the lights if you are the last one in the building, or do you assume the custodian will do this? Responsible leaders use organizational resources with great care; they take the long view and see their own well-being as intrinsically linked to this organization’s success.

On a tangible, daily level, here are several ways successful leaders take personal responsibility:

— Asking, “how can I help?” instead of “what does that have to do with me?”

— Sharing credit when things go well but acknowledging personal shortcomings when a team fails

— Proactively seeking honest feedback about personal performance

— Acting as a buffer to protect the team from unreasonable demands on time, resources, or output

— Delegating tasks (using clear job descriptions) while avoiding the temptation to micromanage

— Being willing to forego being one of the group (or everyone’s “buddy”) to accept the social stigma of leadership

— Encouraging people to take responsibility for their own roles by highlighting the importance of what they are doing and how these efforts tie into the bigger picture

— Breaking large ventures into small steps, so people feel proud of their progress (rather than overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project)

— Ensuring team members have the resources needed to do their job (including training, equipment, access to mentors and coaches, etc.)

— Documenting poor outcomes and intentionally communicating them to struggling team members so positive changes (or eventual termination) can occur

Empower Yourself and Encourage Others

While taking responsibility can be difficult, it is also empowering.

Pursuing this results-based mindset allows you to take ownership over a situation and avoid feeling like a victim. When you take ownership over your role in every situation, you become an active participant, not a passive bystander. You are a trustee of these intangibles, and this empowering attitude helps others move forward in vitality – even when they’ve forgotten how to believe in themselves.

3 Ways to Create Pictures that Pop

Have you ever heard the expression, “a picture paints a thousand words?”

It’s true. While words can limit our ability to effectively communicate ideas, even a split-second glance at an image can convey volumes of information. Whether you’re a marketer or design specialist, it is important to employ tactics that add power and clarity to your communication.

Creating Dynamic Images with a Singular Focus

Experienced graphic artists have many tricks of the trade. Some like to blur the background of an image to draw central focus to one element. Others add texture to flat graphics by adding bevels, text shadows, or blended layers.

But on an even more conceptual level, you can communicate boldly and clearly with signs and symbols. Looking to simplify – while adding complexity? Here three techniques you can experiment with in print marketing to amplify your visual messages:

Signs

On a basic level, signs are the combination of a word and a picture to create meaning.

What comes to your mind when you see a bright yellow triangle, an image of a dog with a slash through it, or a photo of a distressed person clutching their neck with two hands? Signs convey simple, universal ideas that viewers can understand immediately. Even colors themselves can have inherent meaning!

Like a cross and skull poison symbol, signs can stop people in their tracks. Signs are especially helpful when communicating with mass audiences at a glance.

Typograms

A typogram refers to the deliberate use of typography to express an idea visually.

For example, the word “half” displayed with only the top half of each letter showing might imply an eraser effect. The word “volleyball” with the “o” popping out above the text brings a playful, spirited message. Want inspiration? Check out this 365-day challenge, where Daniel Carlmatz created a typographic logo for every day of the year!

Typograms use basic visual enforcement to add subtext to the words you display. Logos, taglines, or custom envelopes are a great place to put typograms to work.

Symbolic Imagery

While signs communicate a very straightforward message, many images have connotative meanings with far more complexity.

While a house denotes a place where you live, a home has far greater connotations (like family, security, and love). A subject, the objects surrounding it, and the editing techniques we use can all play a role in the cognitive messages we bring. Consider these examples:

  • Cropping a woman’s face to only the eye can make viewers wonder what she is thinking
  • Cropping a man’s body to only his head and shoulders may suggest he’s leaning in to hear more
  • Inverting colors may insinuate a flashback scene or a memory
  • Increasing contrast between the back and foregrounds might suggest the object behind a person is about to surprise them
  • Larger contrasts or color saturation can elicit feelings or arousal or cheerfulness
  • Increased sepia tones can give an aged or vintage look (like a photo carried in wallet)

Add Clarity and Complexity to Communicate on Many Different Levels

While language can limit our ideas, an image communicates on many different levels. Proficient designers know the more clarity or complexity you bring to your print pieces, the greater impact you will have on your target audience.

Use signs, typograms, and symbolic imagery to add emotional weight, to increase the efficiency of your communication, and achieve a greater return from your marketing dollars.

Creating a Substantial Visual Impact Through Corporate Responsibility Campaigns

In a post-pandemic world, marketers are tasked with a unique balancing act: helping people return to reality while remaining sensitive to the challenges of this era.

Today’s consumers appreciate businesses that prioritize people over products. Research by consumer authority Mintel has shown that as many as 56% of Americans will stop buying from brands they believe are unethical. Additionally, in a global survey, 91% of consumers reported they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality. 

Corporate responsibility, or cause marketing, occurs when a company’s promotional campaign has a dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society. Or, more colloquially: cause marketing occurs when a brand does well by doing good.

Visual campaigns are potent, and they are even more compelling when combined with a social initiative of some sort. Here are three dynamic examples.

Cadbury’s “Donate Your Words” Campaign

In the United Kingdom, 225,000 older people often go a week without speaking to anyone.

During the pronounced isolation of COVID-19, Cadbury chocolates launched an initiative to benefit Age UK, the country’s leading charity dedicated to providing companionship, advice, and support for older individuals.

In a stark visual, Cadbury removed all lettering from the front of its dark purple packaging and replaced it with a blank tag: instead of a price, there was a pledge to talk to an older person. Blank pledge tags were also available for customers who wanted to write personalized pledges. Shoppers could take any display item to the till, but instead of paying money they could pledge to talk to an older person.

Cadbury donated its chocolate and challenged a nation to donate its words.

American Express and Small Business Saturday

Did you know that the original founder of Small Business Saturday was American Express?

Without a non-profit partner, American Express embraced entire communities by encouraging consumers to shop local and support the mom and pop stores in their own neighborhoods (presumably while using an American Express card to do so!).

Launched in 2010, local profits leaped from $14.3 billion in 2014 to $19.8 billion in 2020. Key to this success was visual marketing; to equip local businesses, American Express designed creative pieces like signage, social posts, scavenger hunt maps, recipe sheets, and themed passports to support their “Neighborhood Champions”—men and women that vowed to formally celebrate Small Business Saturday in their areas.

A Meaningful, Memorable Message

Consumers want to see positive change in the world and when your brand can be part of it, the emotional impact of your marketing will ratchet up.

Choose your cause wisely, listen to your audience, and lean in to the power of print marketing to put your message front and center.