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Understanding Brand Loyalty's Relationship with Human Psychology

brand loyaltyAttracting new customers is always important when growing a business, but customer retention is no less important. For most companies, it's four- to six-times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, according to Relationship Building Strategist Ian Kingwill. If you aren't able to keep your churn rate low, then new client acquisitions can't grow business — they will only serve to replace the customers you've lost.

When it comes to retaining customers, brand loyalty is one of the best resources in your marketing toolkit. This loyalty is valuable and can only exist if there's a strong relationship between the customer and the company. Fortunately, this is entirely in your hands.

To fully understand the situation and make the most of the opportunity, it helps to apply a little human psychology. 

The Power of Positive Associations 

As Entrepreneur points out, association is a fundamental and influential component of psychology. If you are given a flower and appreciate its scent, a chemical reaction in your brain causes you to associate that flower with a happy feeling. In contrast, a child who is bitten by a dog is likely to develop a fear of dogs due to that negative experience. The power of personal experience is far greater than objective observation, and the associations established in your brain are difficult to break.

For marketers, these associations can be leveraged once a customer is aware of a company. Traditional advertising that appeals to the emotions of a customer (like humor, compassion or joy) helps establish a connection to a brand — one that hopefully gives that brand an edge over its competition. Meanwhile, social media can be used to further build relationships by interacting directly with customers and highlighting the ways a company gives back to the local community.

In many cases, loyalty is strengthened through a series of positive associations. Buying a clothing item off the rack at a discount, enjoying a seamless checkout experience, messaging the company with a question on Facebook and getting a reply back within an hour; all of these small experiences amount to one positive impression that can affect customer loyalty.

Using Psychology to Craft Marketing Content

Researchers at University of Southern California have identified several strategies that businesses can use to create marketing content that builds loyalty over time. Particularly in product marketing, customers tend to respond better to "expensive-sounding" names — those words are more effective at building brand loyalty than plain-sounding words, even if simpler words are more accurate.

Marketing efforts should also aim to unite the brand and the customer under the banner of a shared ideal or goal. This notion could be as broad as making the world a better place, or as specific as positioning the brand as an exclusive club that people should want to join.

Increasingly, brands are focusing on marketing content that represents a particular lifestyle. Apple's clean lines and simple color palette reflects a modernity and style that appeals to its customer base. When a person sees something in the brand that they want to emulate as an individual — whether consciously or not — they are likely to become loyal to that brand.

Brand loyalty can't be built overnight, but it should always be a consideration when creating marketing content. For the best results, focus on the areas where customers are experiencing positive associations, and lean into those strengths.

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