Loyalty is one of the most important tenets of a relationship. Parties involved, or brought together, in any form of union crave loyalty, probably more than any other thing. Most times, these parties or stakeholders seek mutual assurances, and find it easy to envision success and satisfaction when they are guaranteed the loyalty of everyone involved. Loyalty is a rule of thumb in any venture, even where interests have been aligned for a corporate purpose. It can be gainsaid that where loyalty is sure, there is no limit to possibilities, in that relationship. It is like the Mob’s cliché, “if you have my back, then I can die for you.”
One of the greatest challenges that brands often face is that of loyalty. We hear the noise about brand loyalty. Brands put in huge investments to win portions of markets, satisfy their customers and retain the loyalty of their customers. The importance of brand loyalty cannot be overstressed, and that is why brands bend over double, and spend good resources on cultivating and retaining the loyalty of their customers. In order to accomplish this, brands budget and spend big on advertising and other brand building activities like endorsements, sponsorships, public relations media relations, customer loyalty programmes, rewards and more. All these are focused on positioning the brand as a ‘top of the mind recall’, in every way.
As good as it is to cultivate customers’ loyalty, there is also another side of customer loyalty that is equally important and holds strategic impact on a brand’s bottom-line. When all have been put in place to win the loyalty of the external customers, many brands fail to factor in the loyalty of their internal customers. Most times, this critical category is often left out. The internal customers are the staff; and as stakeholders, their loyalty is as strategic as that of the external public, if not even more. The internal customers man the different brand touch points (points of brand engagements and experience).
The loyalty of a brand’s internal customer is often borne out of their experience. Theirs is experiential and can be the easiest and most effective way of motivating and arousing the loyalty of the external customers, away from the often exaggerated make-believe glitz and glamour of advertisements. Remember, the models and celebrities in commercials are not true representatives of the brand. The realest ambassadors of any brand are the internal customers who hear and experience the true values of the brand. When an organisation secures the loyalty of its internal customers, the service they give to the external customer is more experiential than mandated.
The real ambassadors of any brand are not the endorsing celebrities. Instead, the true brand ambassadors are the loyal and satisfied internal customers, who engage and experience the brand and, in turn, sell their experience. Top brand psychoanalyst, Sam Dalontes says “the most beautiful badge of honour for any brand is the experiential loyalty of its internal customers.”
Last line: Internal brand loyalty is the key that opens the door of external brand loyalty
Feyisitan Ijimakinwa is a Reputation and Perception Management expert. He is a prolific writer and researcher who, at different times, served as Head of Corporate Communications of top brands quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. A versatile communications specialist, he practiced extensively as a print journalist and was variously engaged in the broadcast media, working on radio and television. Feyisitan continues to write on corporate communications, brand reputation and perception management, and brand intelligence, among others. He organises the ‘Brand Intelligence and the Marketplace’ masterclass. Feyisitan advocates a pollution free and sustainable environment.