Brand loyalty starts and ends with the physical investment of its caretakers. When Ford turnaround CEO, Alan McNally, was CEO of Boeing, he drove a high-end Lexus. But, once his business address changed from Seattle to Detroit, his car preference changed to a Ford. Even Ford Chairman Bill Ford, whose great-grandfather started the company, selected a Mustang over a pricier Ford-owned brand like Aston Martin or Jaguar.
Brand loyalty, however, is not just about the actions of the residents of mahogany row. It includes the behaviors and attitudes of every person who fronts that brand. Customers sense brand loyalty in the tone of contact center operators and the actions of cashiers when the brand name is mentioned. Brand loyal employees never publicly complain or criticize actions by their organization. Blindly loyal? Absolutely not. To them, it would be like openly criticizing their very best friend behind their back.
“If you don’t like how we do things, please tell us and help us fix it,” said the manager of a hardware store to his employees. “We are committed to excellence and need your best work and greatest passion. So, if you cannot find it in your heart to love our store, we will all wish you well as you leave to go work somewhere else.”
What does brand loyalty look like? Taking a shuttle bus from the off-airport car rental lot to the terminal is normally an unremarkable event. Not in Atlanta when Archie Bostick is driving the Hertz bus. Once on the bus, Archie delivers a stand-up comedy routine instead of the standard warning about the consequences of forgetting to turn your keys. As Archie pulls up to the terminal, he announces, “Now that we’re at your final destination, I may never see you again. I want us all to say together, ‘I love Hertz.’” He convinces a crowd of strangers to holler, “I love Hertz” before they get off his bus! As customers exit applauding, they realize they have just witnessed a brand loyalist.
So, why the title of this blog? Larry Porter is a tree guy…and, has been for over thirty years. Everyone knows Larry the tree trimmer. Lose a tree in a storm and he’s there with his chainsaw and truck. Got a tree that needs removal? He can fall it with the precision of a surgeon. But, what do folks say about Larry? “Larry is in love with being a tree guy.” Instead of using tree climbing spurs that a line crew might use to climb a telephone pole Larry shows up barefooted and climbs trees just like a monkey! His passion loudly shows with his go-to-the-mat physical investment that “Larry is in love with being a tree guy.”