• Sarah O'Brien

Brand Loyalty and Local Government

Updated: Mar 28

Thanks to Strong Towns story on this topic for inspiring today's commentary. Isn't it time we collectively changed the way this important relationship is viewed? Citizens vs Customers vs Partners.

It's only been the last decade or so that most local governments have moved from serving citizens to upping their customer service levels. Some still haven't even realized that customer service and customers are critical to success. And yet again the public sector is years behind and has miles to go if we want to catch up to the private sector. Citizens are more than customers. They are our partners. We are partners. You are a partner to your government. So am I. Its supposed to be a relationship that everyone understands the benefits of. Government has failed tremendously at communicating its value. Not many value what government does for them. They just devalue those who are brave enough to serve.

Back to brands. So the private sector corporations that do it right, the ones we all know and love, why do we love them? Brands we show loyalty to and choose to support provide something to us as consumers. We are also more inclined to forgive these brands when they have a mishap. (You know mishaps typically known as one of those human mistakes) And its very easy to identify why brands fail as well, the themes are all consistently the same when you group together the winners and losers. But lets not focus on failures today, I am looking at the keys to success.

I like to think that all of my favorite brands understand and practice certain strategies to achieve success. I know they have all defined and agreed upon what success looks like. They are also most certainly using innovative ways to track their performance, enhance customer satisfaction, and monitor financial health. And I bet most of them can spot a problem from a mile away. But how?

For starters they are all typically:

Purposeful. Mission driven. Vision centric. Innovative.Financially solvent. Collaborative. Engaging. And finally they are listening, they are communicating two ways.

In my opinion these are some of the essential foundation blocks of today's successful brands. So let me ask some questions:

Do we want our government to value, view, and treat us the way big brands view their loyal fans? Or do we want to be just another customer in the check out line?

How does government change the way it does business so that it can truly support and understand those it is supposed to serve?

If we as governments have been doing it wrong all these years how will we drastically change the way we operate?


With tax caps, budget cuts, aging infrastructure, and growing populations the odds of having some time to slow down and put additional resources towards attacking the problem head on, are slim to none.

How do we ultimately change the tides of this country by generating awareness, civility, and loyalty by putting service towards our purpose first?

I am not sure that any one person has the answers. I do passionately believe that real change and the big impacts we need can only occur when sought collectively and collaboratively. Everyone needs to sit around the war room and put the pieces together.

#localgovernment #publicsector #engagement #collectiveimpact #partnerships #customerservice #taxcap #fiscalsustainability #brandawarness #brandloyality #customersatisfaction


Sarah O'Brien lives in Smithville Texas and has worked in local government. community development, destination management and downtown revitalization across the State of Texas. She is a motivational speaker, consensus builder, and visionary problem solver who helps organizations and communities understand their purpose and achieve collective impact.

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