A loyalty program isn’t simply an add-on that is just about points and rewards or a tactic that the marketing department uses to try to retain customers.
A loyalty program is an extension of your brand. It touches all aspects of it.
In the case of a premium loyalty program that members are signing up and paying for, it’s especially important that members have a seamless experience across every touch point of the program.
From point of sale to email communications to customer service, the brand needs to be put at the forefront to make sure there is no customer experience gap.
Here are five essential loyalty program branding tips you need to consider for a seamless customer experience.
1. Follow the Brand Identity Guidelines
Whether you call them brand identity guidelines, brand standards, or style guides, these documents are simply an overview of a company’s brand elements and voice that should be used.
And they’re one of the first things we look at when we start working with a retailer to build its premium loyalty program.
They contain specific instructions on logo usage down to minimum sizing, spacing, and how not to use it. Things like fonts, layout and image style are also included.
For example, if we are working with a clothing retailer that targets millennials and primarily uses the Raleway font, we wouldn’t use Times New Roman. We must ensure what we design on behalf of our retail clients is on-brand.
The retailers we work with have already invested heavily into consistency with their brand, so we need to make sure that we hold to those standards as to not confuse our retailers’ customers and take away from the brand.
It’s important that our retailer clients’ customers have consistent experiences whether shopping at the retailer or interacting with the loyalty program that we are managing for them.
2. Mirror the Main Website
Once we’ve studied the brand identity guidelines, we start wireframing out and designing the loyalty program website.
While this website is separate from the main retailer website and managed by us, we need to make sure that it looks the same from the consumer’s point of view.
While we obviously make sure we are using the logo and color palette consistently with the retailer’s main website, there are less obvious things that we must consider.
For example, going along with the millennial clothing retailer example above, we might use lifestyle images with a vintage filter rather than super sharp modern looking images to match the main website.
In addition to the visual elements, we spend a lot of time on things like tone of voice. In many cases, we are not only building the loyalty website on behalf of a retail client, we’re also writing all the copy for it. If the retailer uses lighter, more conversational copy, then we must mirror that and not sound like a textbook.
Even things like navigation come into play. We make sure elements like menus are consistent with that of the main website. We make sure that when a customer comes to the loyalty website, they can’t tell that they are no longer on the main retailer website, or vice versa.
3. Ensure Email Consistency
Email is an important and effective way to communicate with loyalty program members. Members expect to hear from you after they engage with your product
Along the lines of the loyalty website itself, if we are crafting loyalty related emails for program members, we need to make sure that the design and tone are consistent.
Everything in your emails should reinforce your brand’s personality and values.
Consistency is one of the keys to authenticity and having your brand voice and message present in all emails is very important.
It’s important that email design is consistent with the site so that the member immediately recognizes who the email is coming from
4. Include the In-Store Experience
Digital assets aren’t the only things that our team has to consider.
Consumers today want a true omnichannel experience, so a loyalty program isn’t just limited to online. There’s a huge in-store component as well.
We make sure things like signage, brochures, and POS materials are on-brand.
Store employees can make or break a program, especially when it comes to premium loyalty. Since members opt in and pay a recurring fee to be program members, it’s critical that store employees not only understand the program but are excited about it as well.
That’s why we work with our client services team on materials they can use to help train store associates. After all, it’s up to your employees to ultimately get the buy-in from customers.
We can make sure all the materials are spot on, but at the end of the day, if a store associate isn’t enthusiastic or doesn’t understand the program, customers are not likely to sign up in-store.
5. Consider Customer Service
In addition to in-store associates, customer service reps play a major role in a brand’s management of a premium loyalty program.
The level of customer service is completely different for a premium loyalty program than a free program. Since customers are paying for membership to a premium loyalty program, customer service is held to a much higher standard.
While not a direct function of the Creative team, when we partner with a retailer to build a premium loyalty program, we have an internal customer service team that handles all the customer service inquiries as related to the program.
As far as the customer knows, they are simply talking to a customer service rep at the retailer. That’s because we make sure the branding is consistent even on intangible things like talking on the phone.
Since our team is representing our retail clients, we work closely with customer service and help write copy for their scripts to make sure customer service for the loyalty program is seamless with regular customer service for the retailer.
It’s all about closing that customer experience gap at every touch point, whether it’s tangible or intangible.
Your Customers Expect the Best
Whether you run your own loyalty program in-house or work with a loyalty partner behind the scenes, it’s doesn’t matter to your customers.
What matters to your customer is that they have a seamless experience. That’s why it’s important to minimize the customer experience gap by making sure everything to do with your loyalty program is consistent with the overall brand experience.
Follow the brand identity guidelines, make sure the online experience is seamless, ensure emails are consistent, make sure the in-store experience is on-point, and don’t forget about the customer service once someone signs up, especially in a premium loyalty program.
From the customer’s point of view, they are interacting with the brand as a whole, not simply a loyalty program.
If you signed up for a premium loyalty program, wouldn’t you expect the best of the brand and a seamless experience as well?