Part 8 of the Building Your Freelance Writing Brand series explains how brand loyalty, advocacy, and word-of-mouth marketing develop as your brand grows.
The most important thing you need to understand about brand building is this:
Consumers build brands, not companies.
Therefore, the actions you take to build your own freelance writer brand must be done so with the end goals of creating consumer expectations for your brand, meeting those expectations through every consumer interaction with your brand, and allowing consumers to become emotionally involved with your brand. You can do that by following the three steps to building a brand, which you learned in Part 1 of this series: consistency, persistence, and restraint.
Businesses (including you as the “business” behind your freelance writer brand) put out messages and nudge customers in a desired direction, but consumers create brands through their experiences and emotions. When consumers’ expectations and feelings about a brand are continually met or exceeded, they become loyal to it because it gives them a sense of satisfaction and security. They know that brand will continue to meet those feelings and expectations in the future, which causes them to develop confidence, trust, and security in the brand. They’ll choose that brand over other brands, meaning they have developed loyalty to that brand.
Brand loyalty can develop into cult brands, which are loved by specific groups of die-hard loyalists. However, the most powerful brands are relationship brands — brands that have developed such a high level of loyalty from consumers that those consumers search for ways to not only experience the brand for themselves but also to experience it in groups with other people. Harley Davidson and Harry Potter are perfect examples of relationship brands. Consumers can self-select how they want to experience those brands in a wide variety of ways.
But here is the key to why brand loyalty and relationship branding is so powerful — people talk about the brands they love. Loyal brand advocates are vocal sources of word-of-mouth marketing, and if those brand advocates are active on the social web or have relationships with online influencers, a brand’s messages can spread far and wide. However, they won’t just talk about a brand. They’ll also come to that brand’s defense against naysayers and speak out against negative or erroneous information about those brands.
Consider my A.R.M.S. theory, which I use to teach the 4 steps of brand building success:
- Awareness: This happens when consumers first become aware of your brand.
- Recognition: This happens when consumers see your brand name or logo and recognize it.
- Memory: This happens when consumers remember what your brand promises without even seeing it or being prompted with a tangible representation of the brand.
- Spreading the Word: This happens when consumers believe your brand promise and advocate it to their own audiences through discussions, content, and sharing.
In other words, by building your brand and the loyalty that eventually develops around that brand, you’ll benefit over the long-term from the power and reach of word-of-mouth marketing both online and offline.
Stay tuned for Part 9 of this series where I’ll teach you how positioning a brand against the competition can help you not only establish your niche but also get more business.