How do I drive brand loyalty?

Last week, I attended the AMA Luncheon in Houston where Shell’s VP of Marketing spoke about his attempt to address this question. Craig Schneider spoke about the challenges he faced in delivering a change in consumer behavior in an area where the purchase “makes people leave angry.”



His challenge was to cultivate brand loyalty in a sea of competition, in a purchase category where people usually care about price and convenience. Several steps helped him cultivate brand loyalty for Shell.

Decide who you are and what you want to be known for.

If your company lacks a clear identity within, it will likely be reflected outward. Make sure your company’s brand identity is very clear to your as a marketer. In order to promote products a services, a very clear idea of who you are and what you want to be known for will drive your messaging.

For example, Shell wanted to be known for developing the innovation that protected a car’s engine against three different threats. The message developed was to be the “best” in protection for your car.

Know your audience and target, target, target.

It’s easy to get distracted when catering to your audience. Especially with products that are “for everyone” honing a target market can be difficult. However, some products that seem like they are “for everyone” may have a more refined target when looking at your brand.

For example, Shell discovered five different buyer personas that purchase gas. However, only three out of the five were looking for a premium gas that would help protect their engine and price was not in their top three factors when purchasing gas. By looking outside of the focused premium group, Shell would have lost their refined targeting and risked not saying anything to talk to everyone.

Become part of the consideration set.

This portion is making sure that your inner identities and goals are in line with your outer presence. Making sure these are in alignment is necessary before seeing how consumers perceive you. If inner and outer identities are out of alignment, then there will be confusion in the marketplace of customer perception.

A great way to see if your company is in the right space to be considered is through customer research to map your brand against others, called perceptual mapping. This type of research can inform the tactics your company needs to take to move your brand image into alignment with your goals.

Influence attitudes to affect behavior.

Brand loyalty is a combination of attitude and behavior. By changing a consumer’s attitude toward a company, or the product it offers, they will be more or less likely to try it out. If marketing has delivered a change of behavior through a trial, the consumer’s experience needs to go well so they continue to make the same decision.

While a company’s influence over marketing and behavior may be more direct in some industries, Shell needed to develop a strategy that would keep people coming back even into places that were not among their franchise. First, they grabbed people’s attention with blockbuster-style spots, creating monsters out of gunk and corrosion. They added to their hype by working with celebrities. Next, they ran campaigns for store owners, to keep them delivering an exceptional experience. Lastly, Shell created the Fuel Rewards Program to help customers save at the pump.

Keep delivering on trust.

After developing amazing messaging that speaks to your consumers, changed their attitude and have gotten them to change a behavior, keep delivering on your brand promise. Shell said that they are the “best,” but now they need to keep delivering it. The speaker mentioned needing to stay on the forefront of technology so their claims remain valid.

What other tactics do you employ to drive brand loyalty?

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