How to Build Brand Loyalty Today and Tomorrow with Barry Kirk

barry kirk on brand

“Consumers are human beings first.” Duh. Who needs to be reminded of this? I mean, we’ve got our big data, customer analytics, loyalty metrics, key performance indicators, demographics, psychographic profiles, and … Oh yeah. That’s why we need to be reminded that our customers are living, breathing humans. Luckily, loyalty expert Barry Kirk joined us this week to discuss neuroscience, gamification, and the changing world of customer loyalty. Enjoy this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast presented by Twenty20.

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About Barry Kirk

Barry Kirk brings a decade of experience in customer retention and digital marketing to his role as VP of Loyalty Strategy for Maritz Motivation Solutions. In this role, he serves as the leader of the Maritz US loyalty practice. A sought-after speaker, blogger, and workshop leader, he has led the introduction of new disciplines like neuroscience and gamification to the loyalty space, and champions the belief that “consumers are human beings first.” Prior to Maritz, Barry led the consumer loyalty practice for Bunchball, a silicon valley tech startup focused on customer and channel engagement.

Episode Highlights

Loyalty today. “Loyalty really hasn’t changed much since the 1980s.” That’s when we began mercenary loyalty — rewarding loyalty, sometimes at great expense. It doesn’t work as well as it used to which is why we have to focus on …

The modern forms of brand loyalty. “First there’s true loyalty — it’s literally the experience. Like Starbucks, there’s no reason to pay that much but you do.” The other form of loyalty is cult loyalty. This is based on connections to a group through your loyalty. Like Harley Davidson. “How easy does the brand make it for you to find other people? This is incredibly hard to disrupt.”

The impact of neuroscience on marketing. Barry spends a lot of his time talking about the four-drive model of human behavior developed at Harvard. Basically, we have four main drives as consumers: (1) acquire, (2) bond, (3) create, and (4) defend.

What’s one thing you can do to focus your own customer loyalty program? “Start with the consumer and what they want.” This too sounds simple, however, many businesses spend more time focusing on what they’re trying to sell instead of what their customers want.

What brand has made Barry smile recently? It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that a loyalty expert pointed us to an airline — Southwest Air. “They’ve got me with cult loyalty — I have a personal alignment with them.”

To learn more, go to the Maritz Motivation Solutions website and follow Barry on Twitter.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

Thanks again to our sponsor Twenty20. Your source for on brand photography for your brand. You can get five photos with Twenty20’s one-week free trial at

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!