Why brand loyalty is complete nonsense

March 12, 2023

A bold statement. I know.

Is this just some clickbait title?

I'm afraid not.

I do in fact believe that brand loyalty (for the most part) is utter nonsense.

And in a few minutes, you'll likely agree with me...

So what is brand loyalty?

Brand loyalty is basically when customers buy from the same brand again and again, even if competitors offer similar products or services. So they 'could' buy a product from another business to solve their problem, but they decide to choose the same brand over and over again.

It takes back to 1793 when businesses have customers tokens which could be used for discounts on future purchases.

But brand loyalty has changed since then,

Why brand loyalty isn't real

Now we know what brand loyalty is (or at least we think we do), why am I saying brand loyalty is nonsense?

Well let's first break down the two words.

Defining 'Brand'

If we define what the word brand means (in the context of business), then an accurate definition could be a unique identity which represents a business in the mind of the consumer.

Your brand is how your consumers think about your business. When we think about Nike, other words come to mind like 'Athlete', 'The Nike Tick' or 'Winning'. That is brand.

It's when you think of a business and other thoughts come to your mind.

Try this exercise...

Think about the word beach.

Now as you think about the word beach, other related words will come to the frontal cortex too.

Those words could be different for everyone, but some common words would be sand, sea, palm tree, turtle, ice cream etc.

In simple terms, the neutron/memory in your mind that represents sand is also pulling forward other words related to the beach.

Another interesting point is memory is (at it's core) a defence mechanism to help us stay safe and learn from mistakes. And the more emotional the experience or input, the more deeply engrained it is in our long term memory. This is why brand's often invest in creating heavily emotional adverts, so we remember them and they connect to existing memories that exist in our long term memory already.

Defining 'Loyalty'

Loyalty is a much easier word to define.

In simple terms, it can be understood as a sense of duty or of devoted attachment to something or someone.

Pretty straight forward, right?

So why is brand loyalty not real?

If you think about it and we merge the two definitions above together, brand loyalty would mean that someone (the consumer) feels a sense of duty or is devoted to a business.

But here's my issue with the term brand loyalty...

As a consumer, we are only going to buy from a brand that provides us value.

This could be the value of a great consistent product at a gold value price.

Or it could be the value that comes with buying a Rolex and getting the instant social status that comes with wearing it.

We want value. And if a brand doesn't provide value, we won't buy from it again.

It's as simple as that.

But what about coupons and loyalty cards?

Anyone that argues that coupons or loyalty cards get the customer to buy again is missing the point.

Customers aren't loyal or devoted to the brand...

They just want their discount or incentive.

They aren't coming back because they are loyal to the brand. They are coming back becuase you still provide the best value solution that makes the most sense to them.

Why you should care

As a brand owner, focusing on brand loyalty is wasted energy.

Instead of trying to encourage brand loyalty, just focus on providing the most value.

This is the key. Value is always the reason someone buys from a business or brand.

So provide value and you'll never have to worry about brand loyalty.

Becuase it's complete nonsense and just meaningless jargon branding experts through around to look clever.

Total bollocks.

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