Brand Loyalty

loyaltyYes.  I said it.  Brand loyalty.

Amazingly enough, it does still exist although not nearly like days gone by with mega loyalty brands like Sears Roebuck, Woolworth, TWA and Ford to name a few. Our parents loyalties many times fell to the “local” owner and brands they carried and for simple reasons.  They weren’t near as mobile and connected.  Heck, they weren’t connected at all.

With the entry of instant access to whatever your heart desires, the days of heading out to your favorite local hardware store are gone.  Most people don’t care anymore.  They want quick and convenient and have no trouble shopping for the best price.

There are some companies and brands that buck that trend however and have created the modern day version of brand loyalty although many can easily argue that the roots of loyalty are the same.  Brands have a much more fickle following than those our parents followed. After all, we are just a click away from switching if we tire of any aspect of the brand.  Just ask Comcast and Directv….I alone have switched back and forth 3 times in 6 years.  I guess you could also classify this under OCD.

Several companies come to mind when one looks at modern day brand loyalty.  Starbucks, Apple, Southwest Airlines, Toyota, Nordstrom and Disney are a handful for starters and you could add in several more I am sure.  The reasons why they have brand loyalty, even though in differing industries, are common.

Modern day Brand Loyalty comes from:

1)  Service.  Service is back on top as King.  Even with being able to order with a click, people still want that human interaction to get stuff fixed when it doesn’t go like it should and you cannot “click” on that.  Don’t believe me?  Ask some of the major PC players about their plummeting sales when they outsourced their call centers.

2)  Value.  No, I did not say price so don’t get all antsy and move directly to comments.  I said value. We were very price driven just a decade back but there is a huge shift away from that, back to value.  Some may argue with my company choices above with value however look deeper at the offerings.  Apple equipment lasts considerably longer than its non-Apple counterparts and outperforms overall.  Nordstrom will never be undersold on an exact item and carries phenomenal quality in its own brand.  Disney, although an expensive vacation, offers memories that cannot have never been duplicated by anyone else in the industry.

3)  Experience.  Today’s brand has to create an experience when you shop their offering.  Starbucks creates a local coffee shop socially engaging environment that many long for.  Southwest has goofy safety briefings and interactive crews to make you want to fly with them over and over.  Apple has stores that are buzz crazy and make you feel like you are buying the only technology worth buying.  Nordstrom treats every sale, even a pair of socks, just as if you purchased a suit and tie and places you on a consumer pedestal.  People remember these things and these experiences make you want to return.

4)  Quality.  This one is the gift your parents brought with them from their brand loyalty days.  No matter how great the experience, quality still rules and nothing irks a consumer like poor quality or horrible service.

Now.  I know none of this is earth shattering but look at it from another angle.  Very easy set of ideas but very few companies can pull it off well.  It is the simple formula that seems to be difficult to solve.

Your turn.  What companies would you add to the list?  What would your #5 be?

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