For weeks, you’ve been watching the ads for the Microsoft Surface tablet. It looks like everything you love about the iPad and everything you love about your laptop mated to become one perfect machine. Or, at least—it did until very recently when Apple finally announced its new iPad.
The new iPad is called the iPad Air and…basically it’s an iPhone 5 in a skinnier iPad body? Why do we need this?
We probably don’t. You’re probably better off waiting for the next generation of iPad Air—when they figure out how to put a better processor and more memory into the machine without forcing it to have any more girth.
Still, there are going to be hundreds of thousands of people who rush out to buy the iPad Air as soon as they’re able. Why? Because brand loyalty is alive and well and it is something that Apple has counted on more and more since the passing of Steve Jobs.
Brand loyalty isn’t anything new. It’s something that companies literally bank on every day. Some companies, like Amazon, reward their shoppers for their continued loyalty to the company. Case in point: Amazon Matchbook.
Amazon Matchbook is a program through which Kindle owners can buy deeply discounted Kindle versions of the books they previously ordered in what will probably eventually come to be known as the “traditional format.” It took a while but publishers finally got on board with the idea and now there are hundreds of thousands of titles being offered for two or three bucks a pop—provided you already own the paper version…and bought it through Amazon’s system. Suddenly, “upgrading your library” doesn’t seem so daunting, does it?
Where Apple and Amazon really stand out in terms of branding and loyalty is how they’ve seamlessly integrated the two. For these two monoliths of web-era retail, their loyal customer bases are part of their branding. How did they get this? By listening to their buyers and giving them what they wanted. Apple listened to people when they found the PC lacking and built a machine that made up those differences. Amazon sides with the customers over the vendors and assumes all of the responsibility for any problems—keeping both sides of a botched order happy—almost enough to make up for the excessive packaging they stuff into those happy faced boxes they send out.
Neither company is exactly subtle when it comes to their branding. They put their logos on everything from the product itself to the box it’s printed in so that customers know exactly who they are dealing with every step of the way.
So where’s the lesson?
Do what you do, do it better than everybody else and do it consistently so that you don’t have to brag about yourself—your customers will do it for you. Then put your brand everywhere people are—even on the custom printed boxes you ship your parcels out in. Remind casual passersby how to find you and take advantage of what you have to offer.
That way, someday you can sell basically a larger version of something you already produce and be confident that everybody is going to drool in anticipation of having it, the same way they would with a brand new thing (yeah iPad Air, we’re looking at you).