How loyal are you to the brand you represent?

Over Christmas, Melinda Gates (wife of Bill) was a guest editor on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme. She was asked if she allowed her children to have iPods, to which she replied no, as their lives had been built upon Microsoft’s success and she was loyal to that.

Secret Marketer

A few days later, Sir Howard Stringer (the former first British CEO to head Sony) was on Desert Island Discs and was asked the same question. Although he said that his kids were too old for him to stop, he would not use an iPod due to loyalty to Sony.

So my question this week is whether as marketers we feel loyal to the products we promote?

My career started with a high street bank and in those days (one assumes before the Human Rights Act had any muscle), contractually you had to have your salary paid into that bank, and every month your manager would open your bank statement in front of you and ask about every transaction – on the pretext that if you couldn’t look after your own money, you could hardly look after that of a customer. Now, although I was a pillar of society, I did resent the compulsion to be forced to buy from my own company.

As I moved through my career, different brands “encouraged” me to be loyal with discounted products but this was an equally shaky premise in that it led to employees failing to empathise with customers who were paying much more and/or created challenges with after-sales service, where the operational people resented giving great service to people who were not paying the full whack.

For me, loyalty among employees should be the same as it is with customers – it should be earned. Brands need to market to their own staff in the same way as they do consumers, such that employees feel proud to carry their brand in their pocket, eat their brand at the breakfast table or drive their brand to the local supermarket.

As marketers, it also keeps us on our toes – to keep our prices keen, to improve any inferior features, while giving us something to puff our chest out about when in the pub/talking on Facebook with friends and family. As Victor Kiam once said of Remington: “I liked it so much, I bought the company”.

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