A seamlessly branded rewards program is one of the most effective tools in a loyalty marketer’s tool chest, and one of the most overlooked. A well-branded program can drive engagement, improve retention and increase customer satisfaction. An unbranded program can cause confusion that leads to lost members and lost profits. Customers will see hundreds of generic rewards programs in their lifetime. Here are a few tips for making sure yours isn’t one of them.
By Kirsten Burkard, Marketing Specialist & Content Editor, Smile.io
In many industries, product superiority is no longer enough to stand out from the competition. A good product is important to consumers, but what matters most is the ability to create a genuine connection with them, something that can be accomplished only through the power of branding. A brand is made up of countless factors, from design and advertising to communication strategies, social media interactions, product roll outs and more — all of which add up to a greater whole. The brand created by all of those choices is what makes the difference when consumers choose one product over another. It’s what separates Nike from Adidas, Pepsi from Coke or Uber from Lyft.
When done well, branding has the ability to not only help customers recognize your product in-store, but also to fall in love with it. For many shoppers, your branding is almost as important as your product, and branding decisions have the potential to impact every part of your customer experience — including your rewards program. But what does branding your rewards program actually look like? More importantly, why should you bother?
A branded rewards program is aesthetically satisfying
Branding is about appearances; logos, colors and slogans work together to help shoppers quickly identify who they’re building a relationship with. The more visually appealing your brand is, the more likely a customer is to engage with it. The same is true for your rewards program. If a customer is interested in your program but is greeted by unappealing, unbranded visual elements, their opinion of your program is immediately going to suffer. Since 90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual, customers are still judging books (and brands) by their covers. They expect high-quality experiences that stimulate and appeal to their senses; ignoring these simple features will slow the growth of your program.
An unbranded or poorly branded program also communicates a certain level of disinterest from you as a company. Beautiful experiences let customers know that you care about every part of your relationship with them, and it is this care that helps to establish the customer commitment needed for long, valuable relationships.
A branded rewards program reinforces consistency
Have you ever been in the middle of watching a dramatic TV show, only to be rudely interrupted by commercials? Your customers feel that same annoyance when their seamless customer experience is interrupted by an unbranded rewards program. When experiences look out of place, customers have a hard time trusting them. Unexpected colors, images and styles can make them doubt your program’s legitimacy, preventing them from signing up for fear of a scam.
A branded rewards program helps create customer delight
At the end of the day, a rewards program is designed to make your customers happy. With rewards that add value and an explainer page that speaks to your brand’s aesthetics, your rewards program has the power to become the total package for your customers. This can’t be accomplished by simply matching colors and images. In order to truly take your program’s branding to the next level, you need to consider what you name the experience as well as how you “coin” what they’re earning.
Your program’s name and currency are two small but hugely impactful ways you can push your customer experience to exceed expectations. By aligning them with your brand’s values or products, you create points of interest that other competitors simply don’t have. And when you pay attention to the words used to communicate your program, you present a fully realized experience that pulls customers in and treats them to something new and exciting.
Effective branding achieves the perfect combination of similarity and differentiation. It bundles together all elements of a business with commonalities that let customers know that whether they’re engaging with your rewards program, using your products or experiencing your marketing, it’s all part of the same, consistent brand experience. It also differentiates you from your competition, distinguishing your customer experience and personalizing you in the public eye — from the name of your program right down to the name of your brand.
Remember the power behind that process and make sure you apply it to your rewards program, whether it’s being built from scratch or refreshed. Customers will see hundreds of generic rewards programs in their lifetime — effective branding is the best way to make sure yours isn’t one of them!