As one of the Apple employees responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984, Guy Kawasaki is known for popularizing the concept of evangelism marketing. He’s someone who has long known the importance of dedicated consumers.

As the current chief evangelist at graphic design website Canva, Kawasaki also knows that the sale isn't the end of the journey for a smart company. "Brand loyalty affects a company on almost all levels," he says. "It makes follow-on sales easier and more profitable. It fosters patience and understanding when a company makes mistakes. And it inspires employees, because working at a beloved company is more fun."

Staying current

How companies build brand loyalty has changed since Kawasaki entered the business, but he believes social media is "by far the most important trend...to foster and measure brand loyalty," noting Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all ways in which companies stay connected and measure loyalty.

"In a sense, everything that a company does is the loyalty program, not some special registration card or account number."

But even as social media has been an effective tool for companies, it's also one that has changed customer expectations. "Now when there are issues, people expect a social-media response within twelve hours," he says. "You could make the case that social media is more efficient than telephone support, but you’d have to ask some companies like Comcast if this is true."

Expanding definitions

In the past, companies may have had loyalty programs to keep customers coming back, but Kawasaki thinks the concept is outdated. "I don’t know that customers are looking for loyalty programs per se other than airline mileage programs," he says. "In a sense, everything that a company does is the loyalty program, not some special registration card or account number."

While some companies might hope for tricks and short cuts to building customer loyalty, Kawasaki has a different suggestion. "It seems to me that life is simple: make a great product or service, support it well, price it reasonably (though not necessarily cheaply), and you have your loyalty program," he says. "Voila! It doesn’t take a gimmick."