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11 min read

How brand perception drives unbreakable customer advocacy and loyalty


Insights for this article were taken from a panel discussion at our B2B Marketing Festival.

Earning true customer loyalty is a tremendous challenge. With so many options at their fingertips, modern buyers have raised their expectations for quality, convenience, and outstanding service. Simply providing a decent product or experience is no longer enough to win their enduring devotion.

The most successful brands foster powerful loyalty by tapping into something deeper – their customers' perceptions, emotions, and values.

When a company genuinely aligns with its audience and shapes the brand perception to reinforce those aspirations, it forges unbreakable bonds that propel long-term advocacy.

Companies cultivate a perception of being a trusted partner that doesn't just meet needs, but fundamentally "gets" what their customers care about most. This intangible connection is what drives customers to become outspoken champions who fuel sustainable growth through their passion and influence.

The what, why and how of brand promises
Your business’ brand promise is a clear, distinct and unique value or experience every single one of your customers can expect to receive. No exceptions. When brand promises are delivered on, they can define individual products or entire organisations.

What defines brand loyalty, and how do you go about increasing and managing it?

Brand loyalty is when a customer keeps coming back to your company, even though they've got other options available. They trust in your brand – that's what it's all about.

To build stronger brand loyalty, you need to create long-term ambassadors out of those loyal customers as they're more likely to recommend your brand to friends and family. They might even support future launches and talk positively about you on social media.

Brand loyalty has the power to grow your business and sustain long-term growth. We all know the stats – it costs five times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one and research shows that repeat customers spend 67% more than new ones.

To increase brand loyalty, you have to be authentic and make customer service your number-one priority. No matter what, you've got to be super empathetic towards your customers and give them a personalized, superior experience. That way, they'll keep coming back.

Customer segmentation: What is it and how does it help?
Customer segmentation is the practice of dividing your customer base into groups based on common characteristics, behaviors, and needs.

You need to ensure your brand is perceived in a way that resonates with customers if you’re to connect with them on an emotional level. Brand loyalty means your customers feel a deeper connection to your story and values. It goes beyond just getting good products at a fair price. If they're truly brand loyal, they're less likely to jump ship if a "better" product comes along.

The truly loyal customers aren't just great customers who keep repurchasing. They trust that you'll keep evolving and solving their current and future problems. You build that trust by following through on your brand promises.

Having a strong brand purpose and set of core values is essential for driving real loyalty. Customers want to feel aligned with the "why" behind your company, not just what you sell. When your brand authentically lives its purpose, it resonates deeply and forges long-lasting bonds.

Additionally, making your customers feel heard and valued is key. Brand loyalty grows when you show genuine care for their needs and a willingness to incorporate their feedback. Regular two-way dialogue builds trust over time and offers that feeling of “partnership” rather than something that’s simply transactional. 

How do you measure brand loyalty?

Tracking the tangible

A brand is the sum of all the experiences and interactions people have with your products, services, and company. Think about how people feel, respond, and what they say when you're not around.

Those feelings are intangible, but what people say and how they represent your brand's voice is tangible. We can track that through their engagement – like co-marketing activities or advocating for us publicly. We use a point system based on different ways customer advocates engage and champion our brand. The more active they are in being a true brand advocate, the more points they get.

True customer champions are the ones advocating for you when you're not asking. They're referencing you unprompted in earnings calls or media interviews. Those are the loyal customers we want to nurture and track.

We also look at peer-to-peer activities, like if they're taking time to get on a call and help us close a deal. How many of those are they doing? What's the deal size they're helping with? Those tangible activities tied to revenue are really important to measure.

Another way to quantify brand loyalty is through share of wallet metrics. What percentage of a customer's total spend in your product category goes to your brand? Higher shares indicate stronger loyalty. You can also analyze repeat purchase rates and customer lifetime value.

Brand-driven lead generation is a great tangible metric, too. How many prospective customers are coming inbound and already loyal to your brand? If your reputation pulls a lot of those "warm" leads in, it demonstrates powerful brand equity driving interest.

Surveying the intangibles

While tracking tangible activities is key, you can't ignore the intangible feelings and engagement either. For the intangible stuff, we look at things like social media interactions to understand how customers perceive and connect with our brand.

Surveys are also a great way to directly ask customers how they feel through metrics like the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This is one of the crucial key performance indicators (KPIs).

The repurchase ratio shows the level of trust and indicates a positive brand perception. And looking at upsell rates helps reveal if customers understand the full range of services you provide.

The Customer Acquisition and Marketing Attribution Survey

Sentiment analysis is another intangible avenue. By systematically analyzing the emotion and tone around your online brand mentions, you can gauge the overall feeling about your company. Factoring that in with hard data gives a balanced view of loyalty.

Finally, qualitative feedback from focus groups or interviews allows you to dive deeper into the "why" behind customer feelings. These personal experiences and stories provide rich context around the metrics.

Combining these tangible and intangible metrics gives you a comprehensive customer loyalty index to truly measure brand awareness and advocacy levels.

How do you use social media to drive brand loyalty?

Your customers are talking about your brand on social media whether you like it or not. Word-of-mouth (WoM) has always driven brand perception, but now it happens at a very big scale online.

How customer referrals can drive organizational growth
From increased sales and conversions to enhanced lifetime value and competitive advantage, customer referrals are the ultimate marketing tool.

Social platforms are the place where people share feelings about brands. We can't ignore that – whatever gets posted online stays there forever. If a customer has a bad experience and leaves a negative review, it'll haunt you.

That's why customer service has to be the number one priority. We can't just deliver value once – it's got to be an ongoing, awesome experience that builds a positive brand perception they'll share socially.

People are now relying more on communities and social proof for recommendations on products and services. Using social listening tools to track mentions, and promptly responding to queries and complaints shows you're paying attention. When customers feel heard and their issues are quickly resolved, it defuses negativity and strengthens brand trust.

Social media also lets you proactively spark conversations and engagement around your brand. Creating authentic, on-brand content that adds value while aligning with customer interests keeps you top-of-mind. The more positively you shape the online dialogue, the more loyalty grows.

Social channels are some of the most important for building your brand. They're where people interact with it, and you can actually measure that interaction. Studies show that 74% of buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. So much research today is carried out via social media and review sites. What's being said about you in that space is critical.

Your blueprint for aligning social campaigns with brand personas
We all know social media is useful for building personas, but how can you use them to develop and optimize your company’s online presence?

With buyers doing heavy research online purchasing, you need captivating profiles that communicate your brand personality. A cohesive voice, visual styling, and content strategy that exemplifies your core identity is essential for influencing their perception.

Leverage features on social platforms like live videos, stories, polls, and more to invite interaction and convey brand authenticity. The more you can humanize your organization and spark dialogue, the stronger affinity builds for making that purchase decision.

How do you use social proof to connect with people?

Research has also found that references have an 85% chance of influencing a B2B purchase decision. Only 18% of prospects trust salespeople, while 92% will trust what an existing customer says.

That's why the customer's voice is so vital in marketing. When we say how great we are, it's marketing. When our customers say it, that's social proof – and they can say it better and more credibly because they're using our offerings every day.

We need to inject the customer voice into as much of our marketing as humanly possible because that's what audiences trust most. If we post on social, adding a customer quote in there acts as social proof. It's an external voice backing up our claims.

User-generated content (UGC) like testimonials, reviews, case studies, and more carry huge weight as social proof. Real customers telling authentic stories in their own words conveys legitimacy that boosts credibility.

Strategically featuring this content throughout your website, nurture campaigns, sales collateral and more lends crucial third-party validation. It shows you practice what you preach according to the people who matter most.

Social proof can also be leveraged via influencer collaborations. Identifying respected voices in your industry and co-creating content positions your brand as credible by association. When they promote you to their loyal audiences, it instantly elevates brand perception.

Turned into ads, this social proof content becomes even more powerful for capturing interest. Instead of pushing product features, real customer success stories and recommendations allow your brand's value to speak for itself.

The key is making social proof a consistent through-line across all of your marketing channels. Each fresh customer story or positive review should be amplified and celebrated to reinforce your brand's proof in the pudding.

Which channels should you focus on for ABM?
Investing time and money into channels where your target audiences don’t reside is a surefire way to remain invisible and lose ROI.

How do you get customers to talk positively on your behalf?

A lot of customers will authentically recommend our product or advocate for our brand without any prompting. But there are plenty of other things we do, too.

Our core brand is around treating customers like friends. We help them treat their own customers as friends too. That friendship-first approach is baked into everything – and it comes back to us in customer loyalty.

Our buyers tend to be really customer-centric. They're all about service, success, and care, so they naturally love to be advocates and connect with peers in their community. But beyond that natural alignment, having an authentic, consistent brand that people can connect with is key. 

We tell customers what we'll do for them, and then we follow through on it every time to build that reliability. Creating predictable "wow" moments through hyper-personalized, responsive experiences is important, too. Today's customers want partners that can anticipate their needs before they even ask.

Having an open, friendly dialogue where you go above and beyond lets customers open up and inspires them to organically share social proof. They might even give you video testimonials if you ask nicely! 

It's a long journey to build those deep relationships, though. It takes consistent effort over time to inspire that level of customer friendship and brand advocacy.

Implementing a formal customer advocacy program is a strategic way to organize and incentivize positive voices. You identify your biggest fans, provide them exclusive access and resources, and facilitate sharing their stories. 

Simple acts of appreciation like gifting brand swag or offering early product previews go a long way in cultivating advocates.

Another tactic is making it seamless for customers to leave reviews and feedback through integrations, triggered emails, and other streamlined processes. Removing any friction increases the likelihood they'll take that desired action and amplify your brand.

Email marketing best practices
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Ultimately, getting customers to be outspoken advocates requires making them feel truly invested in your success as a long-term partner. When your interests are fully aligned and you continually deliver outstanding experiences, they become inspired to voluntarily return the favor through authentic endorsement.

How brand perception drives unbreakable customer advocacy and loyalty

Brand perception represents the overall impression and emotional associations customers develop about a company over time.

Every interaction and experience shapes this perception, from visuals and messaging to product/service quality and consistency.

A positive brand perception occurs when these cumulative experiences reinforce and deliver on the identity, personality, and values that the brand portrays. Customers view it as authentic, trustworthy, and aligned with their own beliefs and aspirations.

This inspires emotional resonance.

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The stronger this positive resonance, the easier it is for customers to develop fierce loyalty and advocacy. The brand is seen as an extension of their identities and values, so they feel personally invested in its success. This psychological bond fuels the desire to publicly endorse, defend, and promote it.

Conversely, brands failing to cultivate appealing perceptions often struggle with customer churn, no matter how satisfactory offerings may be. Without emotional connection, there's little inspiration for loyalty.

Final thoughts

Your brand perception holds immense power. Getting it right taps into a wellspring of customer goodwill and organic advocacy money can't buy. Getting it wrong means even your best offerings get commoditized as customers see you as utterly replaceable.

The path starts by deeply understanding your customers' psyches – anxieties, aspirations, preferences, and human needs. Then, intentionally craft and nurture a resonant, differentiated brand identity authentically speaking to those qualities.

Delivering consistently on that promise through every touchpoint creates a perception of being a like-minded partner. Customers feel proud and personally invested in supporting you with unwavering loyalty.

Achieving brand resonance is no simple task, but the rewards are invaluable. Companies navigating this unlock their customers' most valuable gift – heartfelt advocacy and an unbreakable bond.

This post was a collaboration between

Neha Pujari, Meaghan Sullivan, Julie Solem, Stevie Langford

  • Neha Pujari

    Neha Pujari

    Neha is the Head - Field and Partner Marketing of a Cloud Services provider called Blazeclan Technologies.

    More posts by Neha Pujari.

    Neha Pujari
  • Meaghan Sullivan

    Meaghan Sullivan

    Marketing Customer Programs Lead, Google Workspace Marketing

    More posts by Meaghan Sullivan.

    Meaghan Sullivan
  • Julie Solem

    Julie Solem

    Head of Brand Experience at Dixa

    More posts by Julie Solem.

    Julie Solem
  • Stevie Langford

    Stevie Langford

    As a Senior Copywriter here at Revenue Marketing Alliance, Stevie loves to create content that's captivating, compelling, and informative. She's always open to new ideas, so feel free to get in touch!

    More posts by Stevie Langford.

    Stevie Langford
How brand perception drives unbreakable customer advocacy and loyalty