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How to build and measure brand affinity

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, affinity is an attraction to or liking for something. Do your customers have an affinity for your brand? Find out.

It’s important that your customers do, so let’s talk about building and measuring brand affinity for your company.

What is brand affinity?

Brand affinity goes way beyond the products and services you offer. It is the emotional connection that customers have for a brand based on experience, shared values, brand personality, and offerings. It is the customer’s brand preference within a particular product category, for example, Marvel vs. DC for superhero movies or comic books. 

Dimensions of brand affinity

Identify the dimensions of an individual’s brand affinity by asking questions and studying online engagement. We’re looking for:

  • Past positive experiences with the brand
  • Preference for the brand over competing alternatives
  • Ability to create word of mouth 

Brand affinity vs. brand equity

Brand equity is the added value a brand gives to a product over a competing alternative. 

As an example, let’s say we’re shopping for laundry detergent. Side-by-side on the shelf is a generic laundry detergent and Tide. We know that there are some tough stains waiting to be cleaned at home, and even though the generic detergent says it works on stains and is less expensive, we reach for Tide. We put our trust in it over the generic choice for no reason other than our belief in the brand. 

Brand equity encompasses the whole brand, justifies its value, and is measured based on perceived quality, associations, loyalty, and awareness. Brand affinity is about the positive relationship between the customer and the brand. You need brand equity to achieve brand loyalty and affinity.

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Brand affinity vs. brand loyalty

Brand loyalty is when a customer prefers your brand over your competitors. They believe your brand completely meets their needs and there is no reason to even try anything else in your product category. 

Apple is a good example of brand loyalty. In fact, Apple brand loyalty is at an all-time high of nearly 92%, according to a recent survey. In other words, when 91.9% of iPhone users need or want a new phone, they will buy another iPhone.

Brand loyalty is based on product performance. If your products work for the customer, they will come back for more. Brand affinity prompts customers to make purchases based on emotional connections.

Brand affinity vs. brand awareness

Brand awareness covers how many people are aware of your brand, products, values, and vision. This is measured by asking people to recall your business name, feeling given by the business, information about products and services, and other details. Brand affinity is associated with how much a customer likes your brand—they already have brand awareness.

Importance of brand affinity

If people believe in your brand, they’ll feel connected, pay attention to your communications, and trust what you say. This results in some important benefits, including increasing lifetime value and sales volume.

Build relationships

When you build brand affinity, you humanize your brand. It’s much easier for people to love a brand that is personable rather than robotic. Brand affinity is the most important level of a customer relationship.

Develop a brand personality

Your brand personality directly impacts your brand affinity. People want to engage with a brand that is distinctive and has a memorable, recognizable voice. Spend some time developing your brand personality and make sure to use the same tone of voice throughout all of your content from social media to advertisements to your website. 

Build trust

If you’re building a strong relationship with your customers, they have to have some level of trust for your brand. Trust and affinity go hand-in-hand. According to The Kearney Consumer Institute, consumers expect honesty and authenticity if you want their trust. Keep that in mind when creating content across all channels.

Improve customer satisfaction

Brand affinity can boost customer satisfaction levels through their strong emotional connection to your brand. When customers are satisfied, they share their experiences with others, leading to increased brand awareness.

How to measure brand affinity

There is no single way to measure brand affinity, but there are certain metrics you can use to create a picture of your performance.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS)

Your Net Promoter Score is an indication of customer loyalty. It’s a standardized measure that provides you with a quantifiable way to track your brand’s performance.

Customer lifetime value

This metric measures the amount of money your client could potentially spend on your products during your relationship. The customer lifetime value metric reflects your customer retention and loyalty.

Brand mentions

Check your social media analytics to track brand mentions. When customers tag you with @yourcompanyname or a hashtag related to your brand or product, you gain a unique insight into what they think of your brand.

Sentiment analysis

Put your brand mentions into context with sentiment analysis. Your results should be primarily positive words—that means you’re on the right track. Sentiment analysis can also be performed on text survey responses with SurveyMonkey.

Time spent consuming content

Use Facebook Insights and YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok analytics to understand how much time people spend watching your content. Keep in mind that Instagram Insights are only available through the mobile app, Facebook Business Manager, or some third-party social media tools (not through Instagram on your computer). 

How to build brand affinity

Now that you know what brand affinity is and how important it is for your brand, let’s talk about building it. These building blocks are probably things you already have or are working on, so you’re already well on your way.

Improve customer service

Excellent customer service has a huge impact on how customers view your brand. In fact, according to Nextiva, 52% of consumers say they have made an additional purchase from a company after a positive customer service experience. And Americans will pay 17% more to do business with firms with great reputations when it comes to customer service.

SurveyMonkey market research solutions can help you evaluate and monitor your customer service to identify areas for improvement. Start with our customer service survey template.

Track related metrics

You should already be monitoring your brand awareness, equity, and engagement. If not, get started with our brand tracker. It manages these metrics and more so you can stay on top of your brand goals.

Affinity is built with a focus on individual customers, but you need to keep in mind how they act and think as a community. Provide a place for like-minded customers to connect, like a dedicated Facebook page or forum. 

Some communities will go so far as to create a special name for their members. For example, fans of Fiskars, a Finnish housewares company, call themselves Fiskateers, and fans of T.J. Maxx discount designer clothing stores call themselves Maxxinistas.

Within the community you create, customers can form connections with others who have a shared interest in your business. The connection should strengthen their bond with the brand, which should build strong brand affinity.

Pro tip: Post followers-only content and discounts to encourage people to experience the benefits of being part of your community.

Encourage customer engagement

Once you’ve created a space for your community, you need to give them a reason to want to be a part of it and return to it regularly. Create regular posts that encourage engagement. 

On Facebook and Instagram, the Stories feature makes 57% of Americans feel like part of a community. And more than 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups every month.

Pro tip: Optimize your video posts with captions. 85% are viewed without sound, and Facebook found that adding captions increases watch time by 12%, on average.

Interesting Fact: Videos on Instagram get 49% more engagement than static images.

Types of posts to encourage engagement:

  • Video of your product or service in action
  • How-to tutorial
  • Sneak peeks at upcoming products or features
  • Q&A session with questions you’ve encouraged followers to post
  • Insert polls into posts
  • Ask questions and respond to answers

Interesting Fact: Weekend posts on Instagram receive 27.3% more interaction.

Pro tip: Don’t drop your content and forget about it. Respond to comments, both positive and negative to connect with your customers.

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Know your brand associations

Use your social analytics to find mentions of your brand. Look for common themes in topic clouds created with the most commonly used terms. You can use tools to assist you with this analysis, like Social Mention. You can also track hashtags that relate to your brand or products and monitor their use. 

Pro tip: While you’re looking for brand mentions, look at your competitors as well. See what words are associated with their brands to see how you stack up against them.

Brand affinity examples

There are many companies that have achieved great levels of brand affinity. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Apple

We discussed Apple as an example of brand loyalty, and it’s also a very good example of brand affinity. You don’t become #1 on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Valuable Brands with a brand value of $241.2 billion without some major brand affinity.

Apple has some very clever ways to build brand affinity. Each product they have introduced has revolutionized the market. The iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch are all examples of products that have changed the way we look at smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches.

Their annual announcement of new products, updates, and features is surrounded by mystery and promotes a lot of discussion among fans. This excitement is contagious and results in people pre-ordering new products weeks or even months before they are ready for release.

With each product, a sticker with the iconic Apple logo is included. Fans with brand affinity use these to display their relationship with the brand. This inexpensive graphic sticker is a great way for those with brand affinity to demonstrate their emotional attachment to the brand and bring brand awareness to others.

Apple’s customer service is excellent throughout the customer journey, which boosts customer satisfaction. Employees are kept happy with perks such as discounts on products, events with live entertainment, enhanced maternity and paternity leave, and membership to an online gym, according to Glassdoor. And happy employees provide great customer service.

Starbucks

In most cities, it’s more difficult to avoid a Starbucks than find one. According to Statista, the Starbucks brand is valued at approximately $13.01 billion.

Starbucks has changed the way we drink coffee with innovative specialty drinks and a comfortable atmosphere that’s recreated in every store. 

Fans who use the Starbucks app have the option to order online and to collect stars for free drinks. These perks, coupled with great customer service, build their brand affinity.

Ready to build brand affinity?

Now that you understand what brand affinity is, its importance for your brand, and how to measure it, let’s get started. 

Step one is checking out  SurveyMonkey Brand Tracker to find out where your brand currently stands and start monitoring the metrics that matter most. 

Do you need help with other brand-related issues? Check out our entire line of market research solutions for your business.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. 

“100 Essential Customer Service Statistics and Trends for 2022.” 100 Essential Customer Service Statistics and Trends for 2022 - Nextiva Blog, 3 June 2021

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