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For Brand Loyalty Please Press 7

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Customer loyalty is an oxymoron. Once disappointed, the most brands can ask for is maybe a second chance. And that's a big "maybe."

Case in point: remember when Apple was accused of mistreating Chinese factory workers by an NPR contributor in January 2012? Within a week, the same people who had camped out all night on sidewalks across America waiting to buy the newest iPhone were eagerly tossing Apple under a collective brand bus. Within seconds of the broadcast, thousands of customers shifted their perception from Apple = Innovator to Apple = Corporate Greed.

Maybe this is unfair but, the cold, hard truth is that brand trust can’t be bought & sold. It’s more like a glass slipper precariously held out by your customer. Will it fit?

Soon we learned, however, that the story was just that; a fabrication concocted by This American Life monologist and entertainer Mike Daisey.

Brand Loyalty Can Come and Go

By the time Ira Glass issued his on-air apology in March of that same year, 250,000 consumers had signed an anti-Apple petition, and the podcast had been downloaded more than 88,000 times.

Obviously, Apple survived, and so did This American Life. I confess, though, I often recall this anecdote whenever I hear Glass’s chipper, sardonic voice or get a message to update my Apple operating system. I trust both brands slightly less than before this happened, but not enough to stop listening to the podcast or buying Apple products.

The fact is that both brands had banked a certain amount of trust credits over the years, earned through many years of quality programming and product proof of performance.

But most brands aren't Apple and NPR, are they? The cold, hard truth is that most brands need to earn trust each and every time, like a glass slipper precariously being held out by your customer. Will it fit this time?

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