What Pokemon Taught Me About Building Brand Loyalty

I know what you’re thinking. “WTH does Pokemon have to do with marketing and branding?!” It’s such an odd concept I know, but hear me out, the relationships Ash Ketchum builds with his pokemon resembles the kind of relationships you should be creating with your customers and clients. I’m going to break down each of the connections Ash has with his Pokemon as each member of his Poke squad represents a different type of customer and a different approach. 

Pikachu

Pikachu is Ash’s most loyal companion. With Ash since the beginning, Pikachu was by far the most difficult Pokemon to win over. In episode one of the Indigo League, Pikachu continuously electrocutes Ash and is equivalent to the customer who consistently refuses to buy in or commit to working with you. So how does Ash win Pikachu over? Consistency. By being consistently upfront with Pikachu Ash can help him understand that he cares for Pikachu and values him as more than just a Pokemon but as a friend and loyalist.

Here’s how this translates; Your customer is Pikachu. You need to be consistent in your communication with customers and clients. Being honest with them about your products and services is incredibly vital to the success of your business and the positive brand relationships you want to foster.

Bulbasaur

We meet this Pokemon while it’s in protection mode. Bulbasaur encounters Ash and the gang while they are walking through a forest. Bulbasaur is hesitant of Ash at first because of the nature in which they stumbled upon one another. Through Ash showing Bulbasaur the kind of person he is by helping save some pokemon and earning the honor of Bulbasaur joining the team, Ash wins the loyalty of another Pokemon.

Bulbasaur is primarily the customer who stumbles upon you and need to be educated about who your brand is. You are not instantly going to earn every business of the people you encounter. You have to have morals and standards in place that set the standard for how you and your employees act. This is also known as brand culture. Brand culture is super important and key indicator of the kind of operation you run.

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Charmander

This Pokemon comparison applies to niche brands that help people with more of a service. Ash found Charmander sitting on a rock waiting for someone who abandoned him in the forest. Ash earns the respect of this Pokemon by literally rescuing him from certain death. While your customer may not be facing certain death they but they could be facing a crisis or situation that is harming them in some way. For financial bloggers like Dear Debt, many people are suffering mental challenges that are not just financially damaging, but mentally and emotionally, and her articles and documentation of her debt pay off journey has helped and inspired hundreds, if not thousands of people. Additionally so, life coaches, speakers, medical professionals, etc. provide life-changing services to customers and clients.

Some of your brand loyalists may come to you out of desperation and when that happens how you honestly inspire customers will define the relationship you build with a customer. As you create your brand, determine how you’ll approach situations like this and provide honest information to your customers and clients.

Squirtle

Trolls are a real thing. The Squirtle gang Ash encounters is a trick playing a troll on not just him but everyone else in the town they terrorize. These Squirtles were abandoned by their trainers and are facing this issue by lashing out at everyone around them. Sound familiar? That’s because internet trolls are the Squirtle gang.

During your journey as a brand, you’ll run into people who want to tear your brand down and play tricks on you. How you handle these situations privately and publicly will define your character and integrity as a brand. Whether the troll is mean and nasty or rude and hurtful, it’s important to try and get into the head of the person who is directing attacks against you. We never know what this kind of people has endured or what they are currently facing. Offer support and help when you can. Sometimes it may take you walking away from them to run and jump into your arms.

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When you create and define your passion and mission as a brand, you’re investing your time into developing the characteristics discussed above. Loyalty is earned, not purchased.  

Lastly, Misty tells Ash “You didn’t earn these Pokemon, they followed you,” and that’s true to a certain extent. You see, with customers you do want them to follow you, but they aren’t going to follow you for the sheer reason of supporting you. You must earn their loyalty through the skills Ash Ketchum exemplified when he encountered each of these unique personalities.

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