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Naming Your VIP Membership Tiers: Practical Examples and Tips

May 06, 2024

Unique VIP membership tiers can enhance your brand identity and capture customers' attention. While the conventional silver-gold-platinum approach is common, it's crucial to leverage your brand's unique identity and understand the driving forces behind your customers' loyalty. After reading this blog, you will gain valuable tips and real-life examples of creating the perfect VIP membership tiers!

1. Why is it important?

Let’s say that you're exploring different loyalty programs. One program offers tiers named "Tier 1," "Tier 2," and “Tier 3." They seem alright, but nothing stands out. Then, you stumble upon another program with tier names like "Premium," "Extra," and "Essential." Which program would you be more drawn to? Generic VIP membership tiers can significantly hinder the effectiveness of your loyalty program. 

Source: PlayStation


According to Annex Cloud, the key reasons why loyalty programs often fail are: 

  • A lack of reward relevance, flexibility and value (44%)
  • A lack of a seamless omnichannel experience (33%)
  • Customer service issues (17%)

We can tell that a lack of innovation and differentiation can contribute to the failure of loyalty programs. Therefore, it’s important to avoid generic names as they often result in a low perceived value for each tier, diminishing customers' motivation to progress through the ranks. Customers may feel less connected and less likely to participate actively when tier names are not engaging. 

“When evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).” - Psychology Today.

Additionally, compelling tier names can motivate members to upgrade to higher tiers by making them feel like they are missing out on valuable benefits, such as limited edition collaborations, priority customer support, and VIP events.

2.Three Tips on Naming Your VIP Membership Tiers

When launching a VIP membership program, one critical detail could make or break your initiative: naming your membership tiers. The names you choose are pivotal in fostering brand loyalty, eliciting specific emotional reactions, and clarifying the value proposition. These names should not just serve as mere labels; they should act as persuasive tools of engagement that reflect your client’s aspirations and the essence of your brand. Here's how you can create enticing and inspiring names for your members:

1.Your VIP Tier Name Has to Match Your Brand Value

Your tier names should reflect your brand’s personality and values. They should integrate seamlessly with the image you wish to project to your customer. This might mean selecting names that exude opulence and exclusivity for a luxury brand, such as "Platinum," "Diamond," or custom-tailored names that reflect the brand’s unique characteristics. For more practical brands, straightforward, benefit-oriented names, such as “Gold Member” for premium services or “VIP Access” for exclusive areas, might be more appropriate. The names must be memorable and consistent with your brand’s existing communication style, enhancing recognition and strengthening customer connection to the brand.

2.Communicate Your Value Proposition Clearly

Each membership tier name should convey the specific benefits members at that level will receive. This clarity in communication helps set proper expectations and aids customers in understanding exactly what they’re getting, which can motivate them to ascend to higher tiers. Descriptive names can be very effective, such as “Executive Suite” to imply luxurious service or “Priority Pass” for preferential treatment. Consider using names that suggest a journey or progression, like “Starter,” moving through to “Advanced,” and up to “Pro,” to give a sense of advancement as customers upgrade their memberships. This not only makes the membership tiers intuitive but also helps in segmenting your services.

3. Make it Aspirational 

Names should also inspire members to join the program and aspire to climb higher tiers. Using prestigious language can play a crucial role here. Words like "Exclusive," "Premier," and "Elite" not only denote a sense of elevated status but also make the membership more desirable. Furthermore, incorporating terms that signify personal growth—such as “Achiever” or “Leader”—can motivate members to engage more deeply with your brand. For businesses with a strong cultural or regional presence, integrating local languages, terms, or concepts can make the tiers more relatable and appealing, enhancing the emotional resonance of the names.

 3. Three Real Examples of Eye-Catching VIP Membership Tiers

Creating effective and appealing VIP membership tiers involves more than just offering different service levels; the tier names play a critical role in attracting and retaining members. Let's explore three real-world examples from well-known brands that have crafted particularly effective VIP membership tier names. 

1. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime’s tier Names include “Prime Access” and "Prime Student.” Their brand identity reflects convenience and value. While conventional standards do not tie them, Amazon differentiates itself from Prime Student, offering similar benefits at a reduced cost for students. This clever segmentation addresses different market needs while maintaining the allure and benefits of Prime membership, such as free shipping, exclusive access to deals, and streaming services.

Here’s why it works: The "Prime Access" name suggests premium status, a central hub for Amazon’s best services, making it aspirational and clear. On the other hand, prime Student directly addresses its target audience, the student demographic, instantly making the offer relatable and clear. Students understand immediately that this tier is crafted for their needs and budget constraints.

Source: Amazon

2. American Express

American Express tier Names include “Green,” “Gold,” “Platinum,” and “Centurion.” Their brand uses color-coded tiers to denote varying levels of benefits and exclusivity. The progression from Green to the ultra-exclusive, invitation-only Centurion (the Black Card) is clear and intuitive.

Here’s why it works: American Express uses precious materials (Gold, Platinum) and mythological references (Centurion) as metaphors for each tier’s increasing value and status. They cleverly communicate the quality of service and prestige afforded to members.

Source: CNN

3. Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy tier names include “Member,” “Silver Elite,” “Gold Elite,” “Platinum Elite,” “Titanium Elite,” and “Ambassador Elite.” Their tier names indicate a journey of increasing prestige, service, and personalized care. Using "Elite" in higher tier names enhances the sense of exclusivity and superior service.

Here’s why we think it works: Marriott Bonvoy’s progression reflects greater rewards and a greater experience with the brand. Each step up includes more benefits, reflecting a deeper relationship with Marriott. This encourages customers to participate in their VIP membership tiers.

Source: Travel Freely

Conclusion: 

Naming your VIP membership tiers is not just a task—it's a strategic opportunity to strengthen brand identity, enhance customer loyalty, and differentiate from the competition. Well-chosen names signal the value of the membership and influence customer perception, directly impacting the program's effectiveness. Your VIP tiers should offer a clear progression path and benefits, making them aspirational yet attainable. Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your loyalty program and drive customer engagement like never before? Visit Akohub on the Shopify App Store today for a 14-day free trial!

About Akohub:

Akohub provides an all-in-one Shopify loyalty retargeting app - Ako Marketing: Loyalty & Retargeting, to foster the growth of Shopify stores. The Ako Loyalty Program enhances customer retention with VIP Tiers and various points-earning opportunities like Referrals, Signups, Reviews, Birthdays, and 1-Click Social Login. Key features include seamless points redemption at checkout, Instagram Automation for shoppable messages, a CRM Dashboard for deeper insights, and the Ako Marketing: Loyalty & Retargeting Funnel to boost retargeting conversions while reducing ad costs. Feel free to try it from the Shopify App Store!