What a brand says about itself can often be more important than the product it is trying to sell.
[Image credit: iStock/Blackzheep]
When it comes to brand loyalty, there are few groups of consumers who find themselves developing bonds with companies quite like so-called 'millennials'. A study from Inc. even shows that more than half of this age group say they are very loyal to brands they do business with.
With technology constantly at their fingertips and more brands to choose from than ever before, people seem almost hard-wired to nail their colours to the mast and choose brands to side with that say something about themselves and what they believe in.
Whether its Apple vs Android, PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One or Windows vs Mac, people like to align themselves with brands in technology more than in any any other sector. For brands, this desire to be a part of something can be a fantastic marketing tool, and one that when used correctly, can be absolutely priceless.
For companies that manage to harness brand loyalty and speak to their target personas in the right way, such as Apple, the benefits are clear for all to see.
Apple and brand loyalty
To see how positive brand reputation among a captive target audience can affect conversion, it's hard to look past tech giant Apple as a fantastic example. With its iPhone, Apple has one of the most popular and trendy devices in the world, and it's hard to argue with the belief that this is as much about trends, reputation and the brand itself as it is about the product.
For example, when the company launched its iPhone 7 in mid-September, most people knew exactly what to expect. From the invite sent out to the world press in typically cryptic fashion, to the one-man show announcing the device from chief executive officer Tim Cook in San Francisco, it's what we've all come to expect from Apple. Yet it never seems to lose its appeal, becoming almost ritualistic, as if born of a modern cult.
Then there's the phone itself: As the reviews rolled in, many spoke of the device in the same way they may have about the launch event itself. Sure, there were some shiny new attachments and a feature or two we didn't see last year, but it was more or less the same, largely what people had come to expect.
Despite this similarity, something that may seem destined for scorn in the fast-paced world of mobile technology, the reputation of the brand and its marketing of itself as an innovator and leader allowed it to overcome what others may not.
For example, one reviewer in The Verge who stated that there was little difference between the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7, telling users of the former that it's probably best to wait for the 'real upgrade' in 2017, ended a rather lukewarm write-up of the new device with a score of 9/10, a grade largely driven by Apple's ability to build hype and condition people to expect something big from it year after year.
It was a similar story in terms of sales too. Ask people what they think of the new iPhone and it's unlikely that there will be many people who were blown away by what's under the hood. Yet in just its first two weeks, Apple managed to elevate the iPhone 7 devices to a position where it holds almost four per cent of the iPhone market of approximately 70 million devices, selling faster than the iPhone 6 and completely selling out all online presales across the globe.
What this boils down to, as well as the fact the iPhone is still a fantastic device, is brand loyalty. Apple has a core (pun intended) of some of the most fiercely loyal fans around, both from a tech and mainstream point of view, and it leans heavily on this year after year by promoting the lifestyle aspects of its devices as much as the hardware itself.
Sure, everything might seem the same in the announcements, and even occasionally in the phone itself, but the ability to use that fact to build an emotional attachment with customers and to create hype and a reputation that keeps people coming back year after year, means that Apple has a level of brand loyalty that most can only aspire to and dream of.