I’m a Dodgers fan.

Big mistake.

I’ve been a Dodgers fan for almost 20 years now. My first baseball game was in Candlestick Park and I liked the Giants. But I was never a fan. I also liked the Angels for a while. But I was never fan.

The Dodgers are my team.

And they made my life miserable. Traded Piazza for garbage. Sold the team to a network just to sell it again to a Boston parking attendant. A guy who can barely make payroll. The Dodgers used to be known for being a classy organization. And having classy fans. We don’t scream at opposing teams “Beat XYZ”, we don’t curse other players out. Things have changed. Now, idiots aka criminals aka fans almost beat a Giants fan to death. The Dodgers are a pathetic organization.

Since I moved here in 1996, I’ve been to one playoff game. I think we were done in the first inning. The Angels won the World Series. The Giants. Shoot, even the Marlins and the Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers?

They keep breaking my heart.

I started thinking about next season in May because the team is so terrible. I watch games because Vin Scully is still around, the only reminder of the good old days. I barely go to the games anymore because it’s not a good scene for my kid, parking is more expensive than a ticket and the former pristine park looks like a bad case of over-advertising.

But I’m still a fan. I still watch games. I will continue to hope for a World Series.

That’s brand loyalty. Not the faux stuff we try to sell in the marketing world.

Imagine being kicked in the face by your favorite brand. Being mistreated every time you try to connect. Being kicked and kicked and kicked. Just to be kicked again. And get up, waving that Dodgers logo. That’s brand loyalty.

Choosing Pepsi over Coke 90% of the time is not brand loyalty. It’s a choice you make. Nothing else. If the bottle leaks, the product is not always perfect, the price doubled in one day – let’s see where your loyalty takes you then. Oh wait, to the competitor.

The marketing brand loyalty is meaningless. Just like many other metrics we try to sell to clients. They’re meaningless because we set the bar too low: “Ok, nobody clicks but at least they had an impression of our brand. They might not remember anything but there’s an imprint of this impression in their subconscious mind.”

Oh, ok.

The goal shouldn’t be to create some superficial brand loyalty. The goal should be to create brand loyalty that weathers any storm, any kickfest from the brand, any negative stories. Watch the World Cup to experience brand loyalty. Go to a U2 concert. They can release 10 crappy CD’s, people will buy the 11th because they are loyal.

Nobody says it’s easy to develop brand loyalty for toothpaste. Because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Everything is possible. There are fans that want to visit each Starbucks. Or the guy that will eat his 25,000th Big Mac. Loyal fans do bizarre, weird and total crazy things because the brand means a lot to them.

For brands to create anything resembling real brand loyalty, they need to set the bar higher. Much, much higher. We do too many things in marketing that have not been clearly defined. There are too many terms we talk about that have ambiguity built in it. Many people like it because it protects them from judgement or failure. Ultimately, it ends with the illusion of success based on lack of clarity.

Real brand loyalists do weird, crazy, bizarre things. They paint their faces blue. Stand half-nude with a letter painted on their chest in a snowstorm.

It’s time for brands to return the favor. Or they’ll never be my Dodgers.