Creating Brand Affinity when the Customer Experience is Over


Share on LinkedIn

customer brand affinity
There’s no doubt that delivering a compelling customer experience is critical to building an enduring brand, but what happens when the experience ends? Does your brand fade from memory or live on?

The way people think and feel about your brand extends well beyond the customer experience. In fact, some of your most vocal brand advocates might not even be customers at all! Others could have been buyers in the past, but are no longer active customers.

Creating sustainable brand equity requires thinking beyond customer experience. You need to find ways to stay engaged and connected with all those people who support your brand, whether they are future buyers, former customers, past employees or casual observers.

For now, let’s focus on your past customers.

That Facebook Feeling

If you’re a Facebook user, I’m sure you can relate to the joy of reconnecting with an old friend you lost touch with. You might also recognize the “Ugh” feeling when someone you’d prefer to forget reaches out.

When it comes to your business, you’ll want to ensure that your efforts to stay connected inspire the positive feelings of rediscovering an old friend. That process starts with a strong customer experience and continues from there.

Are you in the habit of letting former customers walk off into the sunset, never to be seen again? Instead of assuming that completing a transaction is the end of the relationship, view it as the beginning. If you’ve been intentional about delivering a quality customer experience, many of your customers will be open to staying in touch.

Offer them valuable information and resources occasionally, ask their opinions on new products, capture feedback, and suggestions on how you can make things better. Engage right away to show appreciation, and over time to demonstrate that you value the relationship.

Brand Affinity Requires Consistency

There’s a big difference between one good experience and a solid track record. Brand loyalty takes time to develop and it generally requires consistent performance over multiple interactions. Staying top of mind with buyers encourages the kind of repeat business that reinforces your brand image.

People like brands that make clear promises and keep them, time after time. Even businesses selling big-ticket b2b items like software, industrial equipment or tractors can benefit from delivering a consistent brand experience. That’s what keeps them on the short list when RFPs come out.

Staying present in the relationship isn’t hard. Something as simple as a regular informational newsletter or a quarterly check-in call can make the difference between winning repeat business and missing an opportunity.

Other ways to stay connected and top of mind include sending your customers business referrals, providing supplemental services, sharing updates on topics of interest, and including past buyers in any customer appreciation events you host.

When It’s Really Over

Sometimes the customer relationship truly does run its course. For example, my daughters went to a wonderful daycare as they were growing up. The have fond memories of favorite meals and activities, and whenever we happen to drive by they’re sure to share a story from their time at Young Life. “Remember when…” they begin, and the memories flow.

I’m no longer in the market for daycare and my daughters don’t have children of their own. But ask any one or us (my husband included) and we’ll gladly share how wonderful the experience at Young Life was for the years we were there. We’re brand advocates.

It’s this kind of relationship that causes people from the East Coast to go out of their way for an In-and-Out Burger when they go west. It makes people choose a less convenient flight time to be sure they’re on an airline they trust. It inspire stories that are told again and again about how American Express saved the day when a traveler lost his wallet, and it explains why B2B buyers change companies and keep the same vendors.

Brand affinity pays dividends long after the sale. So keep focused on that spectacular customer experience, and remember, every interaction from that moment forward can help you build a devotional brand.

Photo by Leeroy via

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joellyn Ferguson
Joellyn Ferguson, CEO of the Claravon Group advises companies on building brands that inspire devotion among employees and customers alike. Her holistic approach to growth aligns strategy, branding, and customer experience, creating breakthrough results and lasting dividends. Joellyn is a former CMO with an MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She is the author of Beyond the Launch and several ebooks on cultivating powerful customer connections.


  1. What I’m taking away from your post reinforces my belief that the experience is never truly “over”. The experience exists in the lasting emotional imprint, the subconscious, and the memory created. You used the example of a child’s daycare. I’ll use the experience of taking my children to Disney World for vacations over the years. It has been decades since the last time we made this trip, and my daughters have long since become adults with children of their own, but we still have vivid, detailed, easy to recall, shared memories. As you note, brand affinity (positive or negative) has a long tail; but memory of the customer experience itself, even well after completion, doesn’t end. The memories help shape brand image and reputation and shape our future actions, plus the actions of others through customer advocacy.

  2. This is a must-read, particularly in the B2B world. Most companies are focused on creating transactional experiences – but the biggest payoff are long-term relationships that extend beyond the transactions.

  3. Great post. It reminds me of the circus in my youth. Long before the circus came to town, there was a deliberate “anticipatory set”–colorful signs on the telephone poles, articles in the local newspaper, stories on the local radio, and of course the big parade down main street right before the big top opened. With such hype, schools and businesses closed so everyone could go to the circus. But, it did not end there. We all took home a souvenir that enticed us to play “circus” for weeks on the playground. Business could learn a lot from the concept you wrote about. You might enjoy a piece I wrote on this a while back.

    Keep up the discussion!

  4. Last weekend I stayed in a beautiful hotel. When I came home in Monday, I liked its Facebook page without anyone inviting me to do so. If the client is satisfied, they want to stay connected with the brand.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here