Designing a loyalty program without inspiration from the brand or a commitment to nurture program members puts the brand at risk.
Loyalty Strategy

Reach for the Stars — Loyalty Program Strategy, Design, & Execution

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

In communicating with best customers, it is so important to develop a clear and compelling message with a measurable call to action. Ad agencies big and small work tirelessly to achieve this balance of message effectiveness and measurement. One leading agency based in Chicago and founded by a true genius — and who was the agency’s namesake — is Leo Burnett. Yes, indeed not too long-ago ad firms didn’t have catchy names like Strawberry Frog and Furious Monkeys, but rather represented their founder who to this day inspires them to “reach for the stars”.

By: David Slavick

Let’s look to the wisdom of three industry leaders for guidance to build brand and inspire loyalty.

Mr. Leo Burnett captured what remains today a truism:

“When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.”

He speaks to innovation, inspiration, and being willing to fail in order to learn, and then ultimately succeed. The culture of Leo’s agency was built on strategic planning and analysis — and, of course, breakthrough creative. That discipline sets the creative process up for success.

Starting a loyalty program without inspiration from the brand or a commitment to nurture program members puts the brand at risk. Today, Nike, Sephora, American Express, Hilton, Foot Locker, and Taco Bell are hitting it out of the park because they are reaching for the stars and ensuring their program represents everything the brand stands for, plus continuing to innovate at every opportunity.

David Ogilvy:

“Any damn fool can put on a price reduction, but it takes brains and perseverance to create a brand.”

Too often, loyalty programs in-market rely on transactional relationships instead of exploring the unknown to discover more. It is not enough to simply offer a points-based program that eventually yields a reward. Members have figured out how to play the game where programs attempt to take their eye off price through a delayed incentive or a bounceback reward to encourage a return visit. 

David Ogilvy also once said:

The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

I don’t think David Ogilvy was suggesting that copy for let’s say a life insurance policy should have a funny tinge to it. But he realized that communication is most approachable when you take a friendly tone and manner. Make copy brand friendly to engender brand love that can strike an emotional chord. 

Brod Doner of W.B. Doner:

“The most compelling creative work affected the head, the heart, and the funny bone.”

Having worked for Mr. Doner, who always had a smile on his face and gave you a knowing “wink” to let you know he truly appreciated you every business day his inspiration even made media plans fun. His words should ring true today: Communicating with your brand audience should be impactful, speaking to their head, heart, or funny bone. If you aren’t addressing what really matters to your audience, you won’t inspire loyalty. The new catch phrase in our industry is Emotional Loyalty — well Mr. Doner had it figured out long ago.

So, in planning for your next round of communication, be it an email, FAQ, or thank-you for your valued program members, make certain you check the right boxes: on-brand, friendly, and funny. But most importantly, get inspired, get your team members inspired, innovate, and like Leo Burnett encouraged so many of his disciples to do, continue reaching for the stars.

David Slavick is a world class expert at CRM/Loyalty business case development, program design/strategy, and global technology assessments. He has designed some of the largest, most successful loyalty programs in retail, restaurant & hospitality, department store, and e-commerce sectors.

Reach for the Stars — Loyalty Program Strategy, Design, & Execution
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