This is what Brand Loyalty looks like

Editor’s note: I know I don’t write many “stories” on the blog, but today I have a personal example of what brand loyalty looks like and so I thought I’d share.

To start off, I have to confess that I’m one of those people who checks in on my spam folder once every two months or so, just to be sure I don’t miss anything (semi)important.

Imagine my surprise when I saw an email from a company claiming to offer a particular set of very expensive, high-quality WordPress plugins for a pittance of what the actual company charges its subscribers, of which I am one.

Now, this type of “save a ton of $$$” email is normally the sort of thing that sends up a ‘scammer’ red flag, and so I’m generally predisposed to ignore it. But they way it was worded, these developers tried to make it sound like a legitimate fork of a set of plugins that I use and love everyday. (WPMU DEV if you’re curious. Not an affiliate link, I don’t do those.)

I’d never heard of these developers before. Had no idea of their level of expertise. If they were previously part of the company. If this was an OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice thing that was suddenly exploding into view, or what.

It must be said that I’m not really a developer at all. I’m a marketer who has cultivated a sustained flirtation with coding that makes me just knowledgeable enough to know when I need to run and find a real developer for help.

 

Regardless of my lack of expertise, my first response to this email wasn’t the normal “meh, scammer” feeling I get when someone tries to sell me a flawed bill of goods. Instead, I was outraged.

Instead of thinking of the hundreds of dollars I stood to save in the long run (which is what they hoped in sending me that email) I was furious at the idea that they would steal the hard work of a brand I trust, and potentially cut the funding out from under a company I’ve grown to rely on the last few years.

I was incensed that they had the audacity to somehow fish my name up as a subscriber and reach out to me, pleased as punch, to tout their theft.

And so, instead of ignoring that particular piece of spam, I went into full internet sleuth mode to find out who these people were, so I could deliver a paper trail to the actual developers before any damage could be done.

 

I can report with delight and a small amount of schadenfreude, their website was already taken down due to a “mistake” in the way they advertised.

 

I use WPMU DEV plugins because they are well-coded and their team is responsive, reliable, and an overall delight. That is not something a highly-discounted “fork” can hope to emulate, and by starting their business this way, those other developers have shredded any trust I might have for whatever they might decide to do in the future.

TLDR; Brand loyalty is being so angry that someone is creating knockoffs of a product or service you use that you’d go out of your way to find and report the the fraud to protect the livelihood of people you’ve never met in real life.

What can your company do to inspire that kind of brand loyalty in people who buy from you?

  1. Be authentic. WPMU DEV has a specific voice in the WordPress community, and they’ve built their brand on a playful, down-to-earth style of communicating that is easy to trust.
  2. Be responsive. Whenever I’ve reached out with a question or concern, I got my answer the same day. For really complex issues, they’ve worked with me steadily until it was resolved.
  3. Be delightful. In a world full of internet trolls, convoluted sign-up forms, and annoyingly elusive support, WPMU DEV is a beacon of friendly helpfulness. They have how-to guides, an active forum, and a great community.

And here’s the thing: I didn’t even realize how attached I was, until this random spammer showed up to try to lure me away.

I buy from a lot of different companies and vendors, and rarely do I get protective or feel any real sense of loyalty to one brand versus another, so this has been particularly informative for me. And if you’re in the process of building a brand for yourself or your company, I hope it’s been informative to you, as well.