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Storyteller To Story: The Twilight of Online Brand Loyalty

Especially in tough economic times, the ancient business adage always applies: it is always cheaper, easier and better to keep and develop your current customers than it is to win over new ones. Loyalty, from the power of Caesar in ancient Rome to the psychological pull that drives the sales of major cola brands, is at the heart of how people act and why people stay.

For much of advertising’s modern history, brand loyalty has been the holy grail. How much extra will the customer pay for a brand they know and trust? What inspires that trust, and what destroys it? These are the questions that marketers have struggled to answer for most of the last century.

Then came the Internet. The creation of a truly global and instantaneous communication medium has forced marketers to answer a new and tougher question. In a world where every brand benefit and drawback is only a few keyclicks away, and every rumor or opinion speeds around the world with a life of its own, how much control can a business really have over its brand? And if the power of brand loyalty has begun to crumble, what will replace it – and how can marketers stay ahead of the curve?

Opinions vary, of course. In the last two years, however, we at Lounge Lizard Worldwide have watched this struggle of ideas begin to bear tasty fruit. In today’s ever more complex world of socially driven online narrative, today’s best business minds are conjuring up new models of customer loyalty.

The Power of Like. As online services like Facebook have discovered, “like” can indeed be more powerful than love. With a single simple gesture, an online consumer can share a brand instantly with all of their friends – and their collective nod can serve as a immensely powerful platform for influencing how your brand is perceived worldwide.

On The Spot. A world of instant information is a world of right now: the chance encounter, the turning corner, the ascension of on-the-spot values. Using geolocation technology and mobile-driven social media platforms, today’s most innovative marketing programs don’t wait. They reach consumers where they live, and deliver services that enable them to make the most of the instant. By becoming the destination of choice when opportunity knocks, “on the spot” marketing wins loyalty in a flash.

Stream Loyalty. In a world flooded with information, the medium overtakes the message. Rumor and fact live in the same house, sleep in the same bed. Not all sources of information are useful, accurate or wanted – and for consumers starving for a way to tell the good from the bad, reliable streams of information win special loyalty bases of their own.

How informative is your business website? Can your customers rely on you for accurate, timely information that they can use? Does your social media presence give consumers a reason to keep coming back, and to value your brand as the only place to go for the straight story? Your consumers are searching for a constant flow of news, ideas, and distractions that they can enjoy and rely on – and will lavish their loyalty if you can provide it.

As traditional brand loyalty continues to fade in relevance online, building evidence leads us to an exciting conclusion: that consumer focus is shifting from authority-based value to a model based on reliable and immediate access. Our loyalty has shifted from the storyteller to the story. And to our ability to share the story with others.

For businesses eager to grow and expand their markets, this new paradigm of endless change offers tremendous opportunity. With imagination, willingness to be bold and a keen insight into what drives today’s quickly evolving marketplace, your business too can transcend brand loyalty – upsetting markets, changing the rules, and turning the world on a dime.

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