Brand loyalty seems to be hard to come by these days, as Millennials and Gen Z are prioritizing engagement and activism over expense or convenience when making purchasing decisions. Because of evolving societal and marketing trends, the challenge to earn consumer trust is more complex than it has ever been.
A Brand’s Voice
Consistent quality and durability were the criteria for brand loyalty in the past. Now, a brand that aligns with the beliefs of its customers is proving to be the future of consumer trust. For years, we bought Nike®, Chick-fil-A®, and Starbucks® without any regard to where each corporation stood on social issues; each had established trust with its target audiences strictly through the products and services offered. Today, however, each company has received unshakable loyalty from some and boycott campaigns by others, depending on its social issue alignment.
According to MarketDive, brands “have long avoided mixing business and politics for fear of alienating certain consumer segments, but that’s become a trickier balancing act to maintain as opinions are amplified and made ubiquitous by digital channels and social media.” Because brands are now interactive, a greater degree of accountability – and pressure – for the brand to be viewed as relevant, engaged, and purposeful exists. This newfound “brand voice” within social media adds a crucial layer to brand loyalty, as the world is actively listening.
Public Relations: The Key to Brand Loyalty
Due to a more heated political climate and a more skeptical clientele, it is imperative that today’s brands are armed with tools such as crisis management plans, social media strategies, and corporate media training, in case something goes wrong. A good PR strategy works as the intercessor between brand and consumer, conveying the brand’s message in ways that win public trust, and act as a safeguard for unanticipated social backlash. Where conflict itself may be unforeseeable, PR saves the reputation of brands through preparation and swift responsiveness.
Brand Voice + PR = Brand Loyalty
A brand voice that is consistent with a public relations strategy is essential to protecting consumer trust. As complement to the brand voice, a solid PR plan allows for effective communication through conflict. Ultimately, public relations is the anchor that holds the brand secure in the ever-changing political and social tides.