Is It Time to Rebrand Your Loyalty Program? Four Key Creative Considerations.
POV by Jill Goran
The last few years have produced major evolutionary shifts in customer loyalty with increased focus on customer experience, engagement, and emotional loyalty. With all this activity in the loyalty landscape you’ve probably asked, do I need to rebrand my loyalty program? Here are some key creative areas to consider.
1. Is there equity in your program name?
You couldn’t imagine American Airlines renaming AAdvantage. There’s far too much equity in that name to even think of changing it.
But few program names have made such a mark. In fact, the vast majority of companies have opted for COMPANY NAME REWARDS — for good reason. In consumer research across dozens and dozens of brands, customers inevitably select COMPANY NAME REWARDS as their preferred name for a loyalty program. The problem is that this kind of name is not distinctive and sets up the transactional relationship by which the customer spends money and earns rewards. Today’s loyalty program need to do more. Your program name needs to emotionally engage your customers.
A good example of a name change that made the emotional connection is Famous Footwear’s new FAMOUSLY YOU REWARDS. The program was previously named Famous Footwear Rewards. Yet, in consumer research, the addition of YOU to the name resonated with customers, who responded, “I feel like it’s for me.” The focus on “YOU” struck an emotional chord that the previous name did not. Interestingly, Famous Footwear didn’t walk away from Rewards, they just added something that made the program name more customer-centric, and the results have been extremely positive.
2. Does your program design and voice help create emotional loyalty?
The design and voice of your program also have emotional impact. A new approach is likely to create interest and engagement. Of course, you always have to weigh the excitement of something new against the equity in your current program branding.
These are two fundamental rules that guide our program branding and rebranding:
A. THE BRAND & PROGRAM SHOULD SPEAK IN ONE VOICE TO CUSTOMERS
B. LEVERAGE THE POWER OF THE BRAND IN DESIGN
While we do follow the master brand, the program design and voice also needs to be distinguished from it — to make members feel like they have a special relationship with your company. This may seem like a contradiction, but it doesn’t have to be. We typically build the program design and voice starting with the master brand as our foundation. Then we layer on key visual and verbal elements to establish a unique program identity that creates a special, emotional connection with members.
If you’re not sure how your program design and voice are perceived by your members, it’s helpful to take your current program creative to research along with potential alternatives. Qualitative research can provide a good barometer on how members engage with and feel about your current program as well as proposed rebranding concepts.
Of course, the creative approach is only part of the equation. You also need to consider how your program benefits stand up against the competition and what new benefits you might offer to truly distinguish your program in the marketplace. Introducing new benefits in tandem with program rebranding can increase engagement, drive emotional loyalty, and boost results.
3. Can you make a smooth transition?
Unlike launching a new program, rebranding requires that you transition current members. So, if you’ve decided to rebrand, it’s exceedingly important to carefully plan how you will introduce existing members to a program with a new name, a new look, and possibly new benefits. A poorly communicated transition can result in customer service issues, negative emotional reactions, and even the loss of valuable members.
Like onboarding, transitioning members is best done with several communications across multiple channels. The goal is to create anticipation for your new branding while at the same time addressing the obvious questions your members will have.
• Are points or rewards transferred?
• Will status be retained?
• Is manual re-enrollment required or is it automatic?
• Will benefits be lost or gained?
These are just a few of the considerations for a successful transition.
4. What’s the best process for rebranding?
If you’re thinking about rebranding your program, be sure to choose a creative agency with loyalty expertise — one that follows a proven process for branding and rebranding loyalty programs. That process should include brand immersion, development of creative that drives emotional loyalty, qualitative and quantitative research, and a focus on transitioning existing members. You also need a creative partner with the experience to help you avoid the potential pitfalls of program rebranding