This post is part of a 95 post series discussing the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto as they relate to business in 2009. Read more about the series in the introduction post. And check out the rest of the series!
Thesis #30: Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable—and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed.
Brand loyalty. An interesting concept in itself, considering all along I’ve been purporting that people don’t identify with companies, they identify with other people.
Since we’re talking about companies here, and companies really suck at having relationships with their customers, I’d argue that a large portion of the “brand loyalty” in the marketplace has nothing to do with relationships at all.
I think that brand loyalty, however it’s being formed, really boils down to one thing:
We’re human, we’re creatures of habit. The path of least resistance is always saught, and habit is often a contributor to that behavior. When companies are trying to build brand loyalty, they’re instantiating themselves as part of their customers’ habits.
But the path of least resistance has changed. It’s foolish for a company to become a part of a person’s habits, and then simply rest on their laurels. There needs to be regular reinforcement. Networked markets are constantly informing each other of new habits, and the perceived cost of changing habits is the only thing in their way.
Fighting this battle gets time consuming and costly for the companies, and to some customers…it’s irritating.
When a company is willing to embrace the forms of communication we’ve been talking about all along, and empower it’s customers and employees to interact like humans, that’s when brand loyalty starts to feel more like going steady.
There are emotions at stake. “Changing partners” has a high perceived emotional cost.
Is your brand a habit, or are we going steady?
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