To understand why we stay loyal to specific brands we have to recognise that brands area a mix of rational and emotional elements.
This is not just cold, objective decision making nor is it purely about emotive feelings; it is both. Our buy-in comes when a brand delivers what we want, meets our needs but to stay with a brand we have to go beyond the product and be happy, proud or connected in some emotional way to that brand. If it is purely a product decision then we can just as easily move onto another brand with different features or cheaper pricing.
There is undoubtedly an aspirational aspect to brands. We love brands that make us feel that we are achieving things in our lives. We have bought into the Apple brand big style. As a creative agency it is not a surprise that we have Apple Macs in the office but we have literally no desktop PC or laptops. We stay with iPads and iPhones when there are numerous quality alternatives out there. Part of the equation is about effective operating systems and intuitive functionality but there is a significant investment in what Apple is all about as a genuine innovator, a brand that says everything about us as much as about them, a modern and progressive brand that has skilfully managed its presentation, packaging and design. We associate ourselves with the whole brand story and character because we aspire to that level. It becomes a badge that we are proud to wear.
We also stay with individual brands because most of us are inherently conservative and don’t like frequent change. We are risk averse. When we invest and commit to a brand we are loathe to walk away. The best brands reinforce this with repeated positive experiences to build brand loyalty. Consistency in what a brand stands for and how we relate to it is a key element of brand loyalty. Brands that change their messaging and identity too regularly for promotional purposes are in danger of losing that invaluable loyalty.
The conclusion is that we make a complex mix of rational and emotional decisions about our brand choices, in part aspirational but most importantly with consistency to retain our loyalty. Sometimes for a longer time than they deserve but always because we relate positively to great brand stories, messages, style and attitude.