President Trump is having a significant impact on brand loyalty. Consider what we are seeing with Nike versus Under Armour. Uber versus Lyft. Nordstrom versus @realDonaldTrump (and @POTUS!). CEOs are declaring their support for, or opposition to, President Trump and his policies. In our always on, tweet-of-the-moment world, we are seeing brands and their leaders pick sides.
Will customers follow?
If Uber is an indicator, the answer is a demonstrable yes. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick simply went to a meeting with the President and millions of customers deleted the app. Take a ride with a Lyft driver, as I did over this past weekend, and you'll hear about the impact.
As we have long said, true customer loyalty is focused on brands and is infused with emotion. People are loyal to brands, but that "loyalty" has traditionally been driven transactionally (by a discount, for example), rather than emotionally. The slow evolution from transactional to emotional has now accelerated to the speed of light for many brands.
Brands associating and disassociating with a polarizing President are going to tap into at least some of that emotion. So as a brand leader, it's imperative that you prepare to do something, do nothing, or be prepared with a contingency when you might not have a choice.
Begin with these key questions:
- What are your values?
- Where are your employees' values?
- Where are your customers' values?
Knowing the answers is essential to determining the right strategy for your brand and for your customer relationships.
Whatever direction a brand chooses, it is sure to lose some customers. After all, a brand cannot be all things to all people. The greater risk, in this case, is not being authentic to a brand's values. That's the path to losing everyone. Be authentic, and your loyal customers will follow.
Rubin founded the loyalty practice at Loyaltyworks, and led the spin-off and formation of rDialogue. Before all that, he was group VP and general manager at The Lacek Group. This blog was originally published here.