IS BRAND LOYALTY THE CORE TO APPLE’S SUCCESS?

By Scott Goodson, Founder of StrawberryFrog. His book Uprising will be published by McGraw Hill early next year. 

Apple has just launched a software update to fix a problem that was draining the battery life of its new iPhone 4S, something that caused a wave of complaints from customers and critics across the globe.

Of course, it didn’t help that Apple apparently took several weeks to even acknowledge the glitch. Or that it came on top of lots of other problems with the new iOS 5 operating system – all of which are now resolved according to the software giant.

But will this damage Apple’s reputation? Is there a growing uprising against the Californian company? Are people ditching Apple to go elsewhere? Is its PR team panicking? It would seem not.

You see, whenever Apple has problems with its products, its customers are incredibly forgiving and patient. They understand that issues can sometimes arise and they’ll continue to buy Apple products despite any mistakes they might make.

But why is there such a huge loyalty towards Apple?

Well, it’s mainly because of the late, great Steve Jobs. Apple is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is Apple. People feel like they have a personal relationship with Apple because they’re essentially thinking of Steve.

And when you think about how incredibly passionate Steve was about Apple products, ensuring they were of the highest quality and cutting-edge design, you can understand why people are willing to be lenient.

By creating an emotional connection with its customers, Apple has done the near impossible – it has acquired a loyal following. Brand loyalty has played a huge part in its global success. There’s no doubt about that.

So if people will forgive brands that sometimes mess up, how can you ensure your own brand gets the same kind of attention?

Firstly, you have to build relationships with your customers. And that means being trustworthy and transparent. You do that by embracing the Internet and social media. You can start blogging. You can talk directly to people on Twitter. You can use Facebook to show who’s behind your logo. All of that is obvious.

Secondly – and this is the real key to brand loyalty – you have to carry out some movement marketing. You have to stop telling people about what your company makes, and instead think about what you believe in. And what you believe in has to touch a nerve with your target market.

Steve Jobs did this brilliantly. He told the world that he believed in innovative, high quality products and would always strive to bring the best technology to the market. In fact, Apple’s mission statement doesn’t really talk about what it does; it talks about what it believes in.

It reads: “Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”

With this inspiring mission statement in mind, consider what makes your brand tick. If you’re a car company, don’t put messages out there that say ‘We sell cars!’ Think about something that will tap into your customers’ emotions and go for it. Like, for example, the ‘Against Dumb’ campaign my StrawberryFrog did on fighting big mass over-consumption for Smart USA.

Whatever you choose, you have to believein something that starts from the very core of your business. It’s no good saying you believe in saving the environment if your company wastes tonnes of paper every year.

Apple’s worldwide success is because its mission statement resonates throughout each and every part of its operations. Brand loyalty begins from the inside out. You can’t fool people and loyalty won’t come so easily.

People who buy Apple products know of the passion and dedication that went into making them. They know Apple is committed to making the best quality software systems and products possible. They also associate Steve Jobs with Apple, feeling as though they have an emotional connection with the company. And that’s why they’re happy to overlook the odd glitch.

But brand loyalty isn’t just about forgiving brands for the odd mistake. It also means people won’t go elsewhere, even if the competition offer lower prices. It keeps revenues high and retains market share. You can see why brand loyalty is a priority for any business.

If you want brand loyalty, figure out how you can connect with your customers and start a movement that you believe in. The rest will certainly follow.