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The American Marketing Association defines brand loyalty as “The degree to which a consumer consistently purchases the same brand within a product class,” but to me brand loyalty is when you’re committed to a brand, not because you were raised on them, but because they treat you right.

A few months ago a member of our cross country team had her Nike watch stolen. Our coach has a friend in Nike and when he told him what happened, he was horrified and sent a replacement right away. To backtrack – my family has always been loyal to Nike. As a group of runners, Nike is nothing but the best! That said, I would buy something from Adidas if it meant saving a few bucks. Now I am willing to spend those few extra bucks to support a company who values their costumers as much as Nike (in my experience) does.

I had a similar experience. A little over a year ago I discovered this little known music streaming site: Grooveshark. I couldn’t even tell you how I found it, but I owe whoever showed me it a HUGE thank you. On Grooveshark you can listen to stations (similar to Pandora), but what sets Grooveshark apart is that you can search songs, create playlists, and there are no interrupting advertisements. I say interrupting because they do have an ad to the right hand side of your screen, but it has no effect on ANYTHING. They are even worth taking a look at because they’re tailored to you. I actually found ModCloth from a Grooveshark ad. (Modcloth is a great online clothes store – expensive but great) Grooveshark already had me hooked for life, but I started to have problems with my anti-virus randomly alerting me that the site was Malware. I didn’t think much of it and just refreshed the page and continued into the world of my hand selected music. After a few months I decided that I should report it. Within 20 MINUTES I received an email apologizing and asking for further information (what the alert was like, when it happened, and if I was redirect (so they could best solve the problem) but they didn’t stop there, they gave me 3 months of free premium membership. The 3 months came with ad-free usage so that I wouldn’t have any more difficulty while the got rid of the problem. Not only were the email prompt and personable, they were genuinely helpful. When my 3 month membership runs out, I intend to spend the $90 per year on one to support them and thank them for everything day do.

In the food industry there have been similar encounters. My family avoids Burger King, Arbys, KFC and other fast food restaurants because of repeated poor service or poor food quality.

This all has been a reminder to me that the way you treat people matters. Brand loyalty is proof that when you treat someone with respect, they remember.