Managing Brand Loyalty as a Social Network

CUSTOMERS OF ICONIC BRANDS VALUE THEM differently than the mind-share model predicts—as containers of identity myths that they experience through ritual action. Not surprisingly, brand loyalty works differently as well. To understand how loyalty is maintained for identity brands, we must look carefully at how customers use the brand in everyday life searching for the glue that creates allegiances over time.

In the following analysis, I draw on an ethnographic study of ESPN.1 I found that this sports media company has three interdependent constituencies—customer segments that I call followers, insiders, and feeders. The key to how brand loyalty works for iconic brands like ESPN is found in ...

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