Loyalty: Who Owes Whom, the Purveyor or the Client?

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by Dave Clayman, CMT®, C(k)P®, AIF®, CPWA®, Co-Founder and Principal

Brand loyalty is a goal that every company strives for; “how do we make our consumers buy more of our product and exclusively our product vs. our competitors’ products?”  Marketing teams and ad agencies are hired, focus groups are convened, thousands of dollars spent trying to figure what makes a consumer loyal to a brand.

James Surowiecki even argues in his February 2014 New York Times article Twilight of the Brands, that brands are more fragile these days because consumers are “supremely well informed and …investigate the real value of products rather than rely on logos.”  Is that what we think a brand is?  A Swoosh or an A to Z smile or an Apple with a bite taken out or an imposing looking bull? NO! Consumers and clients aren’t sheep; we don’t look at a logo and buy because it’s pretty, we buy because of the promise behind the brand.  The sneaker to make us more like Jordan, the book that we can get delivered instantly, the revolutionary piece of technology, the growth of our wealth.

Brands haven’t become less valuable because of a more informed consumer, as long as the company is keeping the promise behind their brand.  The companies that seek brand loyalty need to first  demonstrate loyalty to their client base, and the people will respond in return.  Loyalty to brands is alive and well provided the companies deserve it.  Let’s take Disney for example, the company believes that a brand is a living entity which is a product of a thousand small gestures, gestures its employees perform for customers, not the other way around, thus engendering the passionate loyalty that Disneyophiles feel.  Walt Disney World opened 44 years ago and they still reward cast members for creating “magical moments” for guests.  The culture of the company is focused on loyalty to their consumers and the experience Disney provides.  Now, do they charge a premium price? Absolutely.  But, their customers pay it because Disney keeps that promise of loyalty and rewards them with a valuable and exceptional (in today’s world) reward for their money spent.  Is Disney afraid of the informed consumer?  No, they welcome it.  Reviews, websites, blogs, all sing the praises of the company that still aims to please; that keeps the promise of quality family entertainment that has been their brand since Steamboat Willie was created in 1928.

Walt Disney was a revolutionary mind who built a brand by following a mantra: “Whatever you do, do it well.  Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”  That sentiment creates brand loyalty; if a company keeps a promise like that, then their clients/customers will be extremely loyal.  That’s why we welcome informed clients who want to be part of a brand that promises to be loyal to our principles and seeks to earn the loyalty of our clients in return.

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