What’s one of the biggest things that can cement a brand for long-term success? Customer loyalty. What’s one of the most toxic, stagnation-causing things that could damage a brand? Customer loyalty. Alan Henry wrote an incredible piece about customer loyalty (which you can find here), and how it benefits and hinders businesses. You may be thinking to yourself “How can brand loyalty hinder a business? Loyal customers consistently buy products. How will that hurt my brand?” Well, as Henry points out in his article, if brand loyalty becomes so extreme that the customer can no longer be objective about products, your products will become stagnant.
Henry uses Apple as an example. Apple has millions of loyal customers (commonly known as “Apple Fanboys”) who exclusively buy Apple products. Instead of looking at the reviews of the products and how they compare to Android phones or Microsoft tablets, Apple fanboys will just buy the newest Apple product whether it’s superior or not. If you truly believe in the power of the purchase, what Apple Fanboys are collectively saying is “I don’t care if your product is any good, I just want it because I like you guys.” This is a dubious position to take as consumer, as
“Planting your banner on the side of a ‘brand,’ or even a specific product in general, is a set of self-imposed shackles. It’s a ‘monopoly by choice,’ where you trust a company to deliver everything you need, when you need it, and to never violate your privacy, never overcharge you for services, or treat you right as a customer.”
Now you might be thinking “I get that my products might not be superior, but I’m consistently making money. Isn’t that the bottom-line?” Sure, but how long will you actually be making money with inferior products? How long are going to bank on your customers not acknowledging your competition and worshiping your brand? According to InformationWeek, Android is destroying Apple in terms of volume, and are have predicted are predicted to have shipped over 1 billion units by the end of the year. Why is that? Because Apple is still playing catch up on certain features that Samsung and even Sony phones have already done.
I think a real-life parallel to this would be having good friends versus having true friends. Good friends will make you feel better and tell you what you want to hear because they enjoy having you as a friend, but true friends will tell you the things you NEED to hear when you NEED to change, even if it means hurting your feelings. So appreciate your friends. Love your fans. Treat them well, and repay their loyalty by making the best products, and you make the best products by seeing what you can do better and giving them something no other company can.