What Does Loyalty Really Mean?

Cute puppy. Article on loyalty. As cliche as cliche can be.

We bought a dog. Not this little one, that's a stock photo.

What does Loyalty really mean?

Our puppy, Jazz, has been in our house one day. However, it's enough to remind me why dogs, in my opinion, are just great. Don't get me wrong, we have two cats also, and a hamster (the things you do for your children), though, I feel dogs are a little different.

What does Loyalty really mean for you?

I conduct a variety of workshops and present often. Each time, I always ask the audience for their thoughts on what loyalty means to them.

In a business environment, the question is received in a business context. So, the answers typically range from "to have a relationship with a brand to encourage consumers to spend more", to "a program where consumers are rewarded for buying products with us". The more senior the person, the more complex the answers. The more enthusiastic the person, the more buzzwords. I'm sure you get the picture.

There is nothing wrong with that, and besides, the answers are generally technically correct, however not really what I am looking for, or how I want the audience to think.

Always, my response is:

There are two types of true loyalty. Both undying.


The Dog

what does loyalty really mean

First of all, is the loyalty shown by your pet dog. Each time you leave the house, it is sad, frets, barks for you - even suffering separation anxiety in some cases. Then, from the moment you arrive home, it greets you with love and excitement - tail wagging and jumping for joy that you are there with them.

When they are naughty or do something wrong, they are sometimes chastised or punished in some way. And they know they are in trouble. But, they can't wait to do something to receive your affection again. Anything. Crawling a little closer. They are begging with their eyes. Their tail thumping on the floor. Anything for your love and acceptance.

The Football Fan

Secondly, is that of your football team. I've had the pleasure to work with sporting teams and see how fans feel and react in many countries. For me, the most passionate are the Brazilians and their club team. I've seen boardroom discussions turn into football debates. And those debates turn into fierce conversations. It won't be such a heated discussion where a punch would be thrown, but it will be a discussion with raised voices. A lively debate so focussed and one-eyed when it comes to their team, whether the team is winning or losing.

Above all, it seems they would rather cut their arm off than change their allegiance or support another team.

What does loyaltly mean
Credit: Instagram @mauricio.flamengo

Great story, but why is that important?

In an earlier post, we talked about the difference between rational and emotional thinking in a loyalty context.  And, while the correct approach is to have balance, we as Loyalty Marketers often provide rational options to our customer base.

"10% off here", "Double Points there", and so on.

What are trying to do is to create that emotional connection, where thinking doesn't even come into it. Thus, becoming an automated response.

The dog and the football supporter. Blind, unwavering loyalty, without a thought. True Loyalty.

Wouldn't it be great if all of our customers were like that?

There are ways to create that connection and increase this number within your customer base. Besides, we humans prefer it if we can think fast, not slow.

Perhaps it's time to ask yourself, what does loyalty really mean?

Paul Malcolm Vivid Engagement Loyalty Program
Paul Malcolm
Founder & CEO, Vivid Engagement

A specialist Loyalty and Engagement Consultant focusing on Loyalty Programs, Engagement Strategy, Gamification, and Marketing Technology.

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