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Brands and customer loyalty…

Just what is a brand? How does it relate to customer loyalty? Can you control a brand? Can you build customer loyalty? Does it matter?

I argue that brand is what happens when your customers become loyal. A brand is the name that encapsulates customer loyalty. Amazon didn’t have a brand until they had customers who were loyal. That’s the moment when they became Amazon, and were no longer just a cheap bookseller. That brand allowed them to buy into the world of publishing AND while the customer loyalty allowed them to begin selling cleaning supplies.

A brand is like a savings account that pays interest. You make deposits by delivering on your promises. Just like a savings account though, you can draw the funds down. Apple did this in the 90’s by breaking promises. By the time Jobs walked in to rescue the day, Apple’s brand balance was negative. In fact, he used his own “Steve Jobs” brand to loan a bit to Apple.

He was able to take that tiny balance and by sheer force of will, energize the whole company. As a group, they then focused on a single thing. Quality of experience. That is the Apple promise, and that is what they deliver.

Amazon promised a great book buying experience and that’s what they deliver. To this day, buying a book on Amazon is fun. It is painless. So is buying a new home theater. That is their promise and they deliver.

Dell’s promise is very different. Dell promises to be the best deal. They promise to never be a waste of money. They aren’t the quickest. They won’t even guarantee a delivery date, but you always know it’s a good deal. They are the Honda of the PC world. It may not be the flashiest, but damn if it doesn’t start every time!

My experience is that when you tell people what they want to hear, it never works out. Brand is what happens when you tell people what you believe and then you deliver it. Not everyone will want to hear it, but those who do will buy and they will love you.

Two cents worth…

Posted in Business.

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