Brands: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

My uncle refuses to use any other type of razor than the yellow disposable one-bladed Bic. No fancy Norelco electronic shaver, not even a Gillette razor with replaceable heads. A one-bladed disposable razor is his shaving choice. He once bought out the entire stock of these razors at Costco in fear that they were going to stop making them.

Is there a brand you feel is this irreplaceable? A brand that no matter what, will deliver for you and one you will always trust. Most of us do, and that is brand loyalty. The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier defines it as, “A Charismatic Brand: any product, service or organization for which people believe there’s no substitute.”  Simply, it’s a committed relationship, a safety blanket or, at the minimum, a constant that’s part of your daily routine. Brands that can achieve this level of brand loyalty will be able to demand a higher price and are better able to communicate with thier customers.

Contrary to popular belief, brand loyalty is still a very strong force in consumer behavior. It’s not dead, it’s just in hiding behind the miserable economy and all of the clutter that exists in today’s advertising world. Brand loyalists still buy Starbucks at $5 a cup and would never stop shopping at Target – well, just because!  How have these brands become Charismatic and gained such loyal followers? It doesn’t happen overnight, and there are hundreds of elements that make up a successful brand – but it’s worth it. According to Dr. Robert Passikoff, President of brand research company Brand Keys, just a 5 percent increase in loyalty can result in as much as a 95 percent profit increase. So, no matter the upfront cost or difficulty, I’d choose brand loyalty any day.

So, the big question is, How do you define brand loyalty? What makes you purchase a brand over and over again? Is it a brand you just really love? One you choose by default? Do you have loyalty to a brand at all? I find myself completely agreeing with Neumeier’s definition, that brand loyalty is a product you believe has no substitute. I know my Uncle would agree as well. Although some may see him as particular or narcotic, I simply see him as a brand loyalist. And, ultimately, that’s what drives these brands – the consumers. Without us, they would not exist. And, without them, we may go insane. So, next time you’re at the store, think about your loyalty and reach for the brand that has always followed through for you, because, if you don’t, you could be buying out Costco’s supply of it when it’s about to become extinct.