Very basic rules apply when it comes to matters of brand loyalty. Assuming the product or service being offered is of acceptable quality it's simply a matter of maintaining a good relationship with the customer or client. For example, a good friend of mine tells me she wouldn't dream of moving her account from a certain bank, even if she was offered an account at another bank with reduced banking charges. That's because she feels her personal banker goes the extra mile for her.
Admittedly she pays for the service but with one phone call she can move money, get a bridging loan, organise foreign currency and pay her bills. No forms to fill in, no bureaucracy....just a friendly voice at the other end of the phone and the job done. The same applies to her favourite hotel and her favourite airline. Both know she travels frequently on business and entertains in the hotel's restaurants and both treat her as a valued customer.
When she checks in for a flight she is greeted by name and her slightly eccentric requests are met with a "can do" attitude. When she arrives at the front desk of her favourite global hotel group something obviously pops up on the computer to alert them and she is treated like royalty, or that is her perception. What this means is that she is fiercely brand loyal to her bank, her airline and her hotel.
She talks enthusiastically about them to her friends (the best possible advert) and, more importantly, she continues to spend her money with all three. As she says of her bank, it would take a lot more than a 50% reduction in bank charges to risk moving her account to a new bank.
Brand loyalty is just as important with a political party and the ANC has been blessed for the past 18 years because it is seen by many of its supporters as the party of freedom. A fellow passenger once told me at George Airport that he enjoyed my acerbic columns and thought my criticism of the ruling party was fair. But this was the party that had liberated his family from apartheid and he could never imagine voting for anyone else. That is serious brand loyalty.
But that was a few years ago now and I wonder whether the ANC brand loyalty isn't beginning to pall. As the famous saying goes, you can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. The reaction among some of the party loyalists I have spoken to with regard to the release of convicted former police commissioner Jackie Selebi on parole for medical reasons has been uniformly cynical.