Looking for loyalty in all the wrong places


Most organizations consider brand loyalty to be the brass ring. It means increased lifetime customer value, savings on customer acquisition costs, and speaks to an enduring reputation.

But how do most companies go about securing brand loyalty? Let’s take a look:

  1. They might encourage you to accumulate valuable data on their platform that is very convenient but ultimately too costly or too inconvenient to transfer.
  2. They might offer you savings for membership (setting up an account) and reward “points” for continued patronage.
  3. They might thank you for continued or long-term patronage with gifts or special benefits.
  4. They might gamify engagement by granting you special status or recognition
  5. If they’re a membership organization such as a trade association or professional society, they might offer discounts and benefits, and sometimes professional designations, for members only.

Many organizations, recognizing the value of caring for and respecting customers, have beefed up their customer service protocols by becoming friendlier and more empathetic. They are trying to be nicer and more responsive, which is a good thing.

While each of the offers mentioned above are positive at least in the short run, and may offer real benefits, they have little to do with loyalty, or reasons why someone is likely to remain loyal to an organization or its brand.

Think about it.

True loyalty is a motivation to continue to align with a brand or organization even if it’s less convenient, or more costly. It’s an intrinsic desire to promote a brand because preserving and promoting the brand is seen as a means of perpetuating one’s values and desire for shaping the world. Benefits such as discounts, gifts, or incentives are a recognition that true brand loyalty may not exist naturally between the brand and the brand’s audience. When true brand loyalty exists, no external incentives are necessary. In fact, in some cases they may taint or cheapen the relationship.

If external prizes or incentives for engagement were actually tools of loyalty, then it implies that loyalty can be gained by a race to the bottom with respect to discounts, benefits, and pricing.

On the contrary, loyalty is earned by living and telling a story that connects with the values the audience seeks to promote.

Looking for loyalty? Be something with which your audience wants to be identified. Tell a story that connects.