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Customer loyalty vs. Brand loyalty

Understanding the differences between Customer loyalty vs Brand loyalty is important if you wish to effectively develop your online presence.

While customer loyalty and brand loyalty can overlap, there are important reasons why you need to differentiate between the two. For one, doing so is the only way to properly address the minute details. Secondly, if you try to tackle both at the same time, you can minimize the effects of your efforts. So, in this article, we will take a closer look at the differences between customer loyalty vs brand loyalty and help you understand how to tackle both.

Knowing the difference

The main differences between customer loyalty and brand loyalty are in their focus and underlying motivations. While one focuses on customers, the other focuses on brand development. A small difference at first glance, but one that can have a surprisingly big impact. Let's now first properly define what brand loyalty and customer loyalty entail.


Customer loyalty refers to a customer's preference for a particular company's products or services. The more often a customer chooses to do business with a particular company, the more loyal they are to it. This loyalty is often based on factors like product quality, customer service, price, and convenience. Different industries have different demands when it comes to these factors, but it is usually the case that you need to attend to all of them. Regardless of how good your marketing is, it can only go so far as to draw in new customers. Whether or not those customers will stay is based on different factors entirely.

Having a good quality-to-price ratio is useful for both customer retention and acquisition.

Brand loyalty, on the other hand, involves a customer's strong emotional attachment and commitment to a specific brand. This is usually driven by the brand's identity, values, and emotional connection. If a customer believes that the brand stands for something, they will be willing to support it in various ways. From the brand's perspective, this isn't so much related to catering to a specific customer (or customer base) but building a strong sense of what your brand is about.


A customer's loyalty is largely motivated by practical factors. This includes:

  • Product quality - Consistently providing high-quality products motivates repeat purchases and word-of-mouth promotion.
  • Customer Service - Addressing customer's needs and concerns in a timely manner is crucial.
  • Price - Having a good quality/price ratio is a good way to keep your customers, especially the more cost-conscious ones.
  • Convenience - Ease of purchase, location, or user experience will inspire loyalty.

On the other hand, brand loyalty is driven by emotional and psychological factors. This includes:

  • Brand identity - For a brand to succeed it needs to have a strong image. On it, it can build its reputation, and hopefully resonate with the customer. A great example of this are Stanley Cups.
  • Emotional connection - Strong emotional ties to a brand due to past positive experiences or brand values aligning with personal values.
  • Brand community - Being part of a community of brand advocates.


With customer loyalty, your main goal is to give your customers clear, straightforward reasons as to why they should choose you over your competition. You can either provide a better product, one for a lower price, or a more pleasurable purchase experience. Whatever the case, to build customer loyalty, your customers need to have a clear reason why they are choosing to do business with you. Your focus is to provide something to your customers that your competition doesn't.

As to brand loyalty, your focus shifts from the more tangible reasons to the deeper ones. Namely, what you are trying to do here is to build a clear image behind your brand. You aren't so much giving your customers reasons as to why they should do business with you, but giving them an idea of what your brand stands for. As it turns out, customers still prefer to do business with brands that hold certain values. These can be eco-friendliness, commitment to excellent service, commitment to good employer-employee relations, or all of the above. The more you set your brand as something that is commendable, the better brand loyalty you will have. Keep in mind that the better brand loyalty you have, the less you will have to worry about customer loyalty.

Behavioral characteristics

To make things clearer, let's see how both customer loyalty and brand loyalty manifest in customer behavior. The clearest indicators of good customer loyalty are repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth based on practical satisfaction. If your customers are satisfied with what you have to offer, they will continue doing business with you. Especially if you go out of your way to make their loyalty feel appreciated. Unfortunately, customer loyalty hinges on providing a better product/service than your competition. If a competitor does come along that offers something that is notably better, you may see your customers switch to them.

To avoid having to constantly compete with other companies, it is best that you work on brand loyalty. The effects of it are seen through a high level of commitment to the brand. This can include repeat purchases despite price changes. But, it can also include more active participation in brand-related activities. Customers can generate content that praises your brand, or they can share the posts you've made. They can comment on how satisfied you are that you uphold your values, and how they hope that more brands follow in your footsteps. As you can see such commitment from a simple purchase preference, as customers slowly start to feel that they are a part of your brand. Meanwhile, customer loyalty, you are just the best option currently available.

Marketing strategies

Now that we have a basic idea of the brand loyalty vs customer loyalty differences let's outline some marketing strategies to tackle them. Some of these will address only one aspect, while others can be used to improve loyalty overall.

Improving customer loyalty

To improve customer loyalty your best bet is to focus on customers. The better you understand who your customers are, the better you will know how to cater to them.


Personalization is the best possible strategy for figuring out who your customers are. In a nutshell, personalization entails gathering customer data (be it first-party or third-party) and then using that data to make business decisions. These can range from creating posts that cater to specific groups. To make different website versions that better resonate with different audiences.

The more you personalize your efforts, the more effective you will be in customer engagement.

When it comes to customer loyalty, you can rely on personalized product recommendations. It is fairly easy to discern what your previous buyers like and notify them when an item they would find interesting is on sale. You can also provide discounts as a way to motivate users to come back to do business with you.

Exceptional customer service

In the modern day and age, it is hard to overstate the importance of having good customer service. It is no longer enough to simply have customer service agents answer calls. You need to provide prompt, helpful, and friendly service across all touchpoints. This means that whether your customers are using your app, your website, or your social media platform, they should be able to easily reach you. When they do, you need to have a system in place that will address their concerns. Train your staff to go above and beyond in resolving issues and ensuring customer satisfaction. And provide your staff with the necessary tools to do their jobs right. If you don't want to get a modern AI system for customer support, you should at least consider some automation as a way to help your customer service agents.

Loyalty programs

As we mentioned, customer loyalty is all about giving your customers clear reasons as to why they should stick with you. So, why not cut to the chase and simply implement a loyalty program? You can reward loyal customers by giving them points, discounts, or exclusive benefits for repeat purchases. You should also consider creating tiered loyalty programs to incentivize higher spending and engagement. These programs can do wonders for your sales, as they give users a clear incentive to why they should stay with you. Just remember to consult with an experienced manager who will help you outline how to make your program profitable.

Surprise and delight

From time to time, surprise customers with unexpected perks or small gifts. Even something seemingly insignificant can leave a lasting impression on a customer. A simple token that you value their interest will cement you as a terrific brand. And if you've gathered customer data, you should always look to recognize and celebrate customer milestones (e.g., anniversaries, birthdays).

A little show of appreciation can go a long way.

Improving brand loyalty

Now, let's focus more on how to improve brand loyalty. These strategies don't revolve so much around catering to customer needs. Instead, they are more focused on creating a strong narrative about your brand and making your customers feel that they are an integral part of it.

Brand storytelling and heritage

If you simply state "Hey this is my business! I opened it to make money!" you won't get much brand loyalty. Instead, try to develop a clear sense of what your brand is about and what you are trying to provide to your customers. If you have a unique item, focus on that. If not, try to find something that makes your brand stand out among the competition. And the more you can build on that uniqueness, the better. Create campaigns that celebrate the brand's milestones and achievements over time. Marketing storytelling is a terrific tool, and you shouldn't shy away from using it to boost your brand.

Cultural and lifestyle association

To give your brand a sense of relevance you can look to align it with specific cultural movements, lifestyles, or trends. By doing so, you can build a sense of identity as it relates to an ongoing topic. Now, you mustn't try too hard to relate your brand, as doing so can seem overly eager. Instead, find a topic that naturally relates to your brand message and jump on it.

Brand aesthetics and design

Whether or not you will develop brand loyalty is not only based on what you say about your brand. It is also based on how you design it. If you wish to have a strong brand presence, it is vital that you invest in recognizable branding elements, such as logos, packaging, and overall design. By doing so you will ensure that people recognize your brand at first glance. Ideally, you will hire a professional designer to aid you with the creation process.

The design choices you make will play a significant role in how customers perceive your brand.

Once you develop a distinct style your job is not done. You ought to continuously refine and evolve the brand's visual identity to stay fresh and relevant.

User-generated content

Lastly, it is important to recognize that you don't have to be alone in building your brand loyalty. After all, a big part of it will be to make customers feel as if they are a part of your brand. So, why not make it so from the start? Motivate your customers to make user-generated content. Have them review your products honestly, and make sure to respond to their reviews. Doing so archives a number of things:

  • You create marketing content that customers perceive as inherently honest and interesting.
  • The creator feels that they are a part of your brand, and are therefore motivated to stay loyal to it.
  • By responding to reviews you give yourself another way to build your online presence and make your voice heard.

Can you work on both simultaneously?

One thing you learn quickly when trying to build a brand is that brand and customer loyalty tend to go hand in hand. It is far easier to promote your brand if you offer a good product at a reasonable price. And it is far easier to employ personalization if you have a developed brand style. So, to finish off, let's outline a couple of strategies you can use to enhance both brand and customer loyalty.

High-quality products and services

There is really no substitute for consistently delivering high-quality products or services that meet or exceed customer expectations. Regardless of what you do otherwise, your customers will always value that you are a brand that can be dependent upon. And they will be far more willing to listen to what you have to say if they find your products useful. The more you can ensure reliability and performance, the easier it will be to build trust in both the brand and the customer experience.

At the end of the day, there is really no substitute for quality and consistency.

Consistent brand messaging and customer communication

Similar to your product, you want to make sure that your interactions with customers have a consistent tone and value system. Maintaining a cohesive brand voice and message across all marketing and customer service channels goes a long way in establishing you as a trustworthy brand. Now, you don't want to be too generic with your interactions, as that can drive your customers away. Ideally, you will have a spokesperson who fully understands what your brand's values are and uses those values in everyday communication with customers.

Community building

Finally, you want to try to create both online and offline communities where customers can connect with each other and the brand. Foster a sense of belonging and loyalty through events, forums, social media groups, and DM groups. The more you can establish your brand as a part of a community, the better.

Final thoughts on customer loyalty vs brand loyalty

There are many reasons why you should work hard on building and maintaining loyalty. The most important one is that it is far easier and cheaper to maintain a loyal customer than to acquire a new one. Keep in mind that just as there is a difference between customer loyalty and brand loyalty, so too is one between customer acquisition and customer retention. While there is some overall, they are notably different. So, whether you will first address your customers or your brand, be sure to tackle loyalty with due care and effort.

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