It’s not like your fans wake up one morning, roll out of bed, grab their morning cup of coffee and decide they no longer like your Brand. It's not like a switch gets flipped, destroying the hard-won trust you've built with your customers. The truth is
Brand Loyalty doesn't implode. It erodes over time, gradually disintegrating with every “I Told You So” moment that you give to your critics.
You know the “I Told You So’s” I’m talking about, right? Those foaming-at-the-mouth haters lying in wait for any shard of proof that can be tweeted, snapped, posted and shouted to their network, “See, I'm not just being a Cassandra ... this (insert brand) really is the evil (expletive) that I've been warning you about… and here’s the proof!”
We all have them in our networks – they despise Apple, or Microsoft, or Facebook, or Starbucks, or (insert brand)… They’re loud and they’re insistent and the righteousness of their certainty tweaks doubt with each successive rant. It’s like death by a thousand paper cuts – with each new complaint, each “I Told You So”, eroding our own confidence in our brand loyalties.
Arming fans to defend their loyalty to you in the face of your critics' assaults must be integral to any successful brand strategy.
Haters are like schoolyard bullies. They don’t really need the milk money. What they want is for everyone to bend to their will. For them, it’s about reinforcing their power at the expense of everyone else’s. When your critics launch an “I Told You So” tirade, and aim it at your customer, they’re not just “sharing their opinions”. They're needing to prove that they’re right... at your, and your fans', expense.
And, make no mistake. Your fans know they're under attack. And they probably want to resist, to defend themselves. The question is - do they have the ammunition they need to do so? Do they have, not just the narratives, but the truths, that can and will mute the corrosive influence of the "I Told You So?" In short, has your Brand enabled your fans and customers to be able to defend themselves? Because, the hard reality is, only you and your Brand can do that.
When it comes to brand loyalty, there’s only one thing that can help fans defend themselves against insults by critics. And that’s the brand being defended.
Unfortunately, too many marketers don’t think about Brand this way. Yes, Brand is about getting new customers into the funnel. And, absolutely, it’s about keeping existing customers in the tribe. But essential to the long-term success of every Brand Strategy, to the very survival of every company, is the empowering of fans with the weapons they need to protect brands with a collective defense. Why? So that the creeping doubt that’s so corrosive to loyalty is held in check.