Honoree Brands - The Gathering Summit | Brand Awards
Menu Back

This Is the Gathering

Honoree Brands
Each year, The Gathering celebrates a roster of exceptional brands that have won the devotion of customers and fans around the globe. In 2023, we paid tribute to the remarkable brands and brand leaders who had previously been honored. See below to view our alums.
Secure My Pass IN-PERSON October 23-25, 2024

Honoree Class of


Behind the Brands


The Cult-Brand Awards

The Founding Partner of The Gathering, Cult Collective, has identified 8 Cult Brand Principles that don’t just get customers and clients to buy, but to buy-in. We've refined our approach each year and have now codified our evaluation process via proprietary primary research called Customer Emotional Quotient (CEQ), powered by the Apex Scoring System.

Each year we run a North American survey, and then invite the best-scoring brands within each category to participate in a qualitative analysis where we glean additional information about what's going on 'behind the scenes' of their operations, internal culture, and go-to-market decision making.

The final step involves a multi-disciplinary committee of professionals who help us assess which remarkable brands are truly the best of the best and deserve to be honored as one of North America's Top Cult Brands. Honorees are then recognized at The Gathering. While Cult Collective, in partnership with Apex Scoring System, conducts its research annually on the most prevalent brands within predetermined categories, any business owner or brand leader can request their own CEQ evaluation here.
Be Remarkable

Too many businesses have commoditized offerings and must shout (i.e. paid media) or bribe (i.e. discounts) to be noticed. But cult brands create products, services and customer experiences that are actually worthy of people’s attention. They are more substance than sizzle and do at least one thing so exceptionally well that their fans can’t help but talk about it.

Have Purpose

Every business exists to generate profit, but cult brands also live by a noble brand purpose. Audiences often care more about what a brand stands for than what it sells, so cult brands have mastered how they weave their desirable ethos into their audience engagement strategies.

Build from the Inside Out.

Cult brand leaders understand that no company can become beloved externally if it’s not first beloved internally. They prioritize culture and redeploy marketing resources away from advertising and margin-eroding sales promotions into a host of properly executed internal engagement pursuits.


Mediocre brands emphasize transactional relationships via creative messaging and media plans, whereas cult brands have learned how to shut up and listen. Cult brand leaders systematize how they solicit customer input and gain actionable insights, as well as how they encourage customers to amplify word of mouth.


Cult brand leaders find creative ways for their fans to assemble together, virtually or physically. Whether it’s supporting 3rd party-initiated activations or developing desirable destinations for followers to partake in elevated branded experiences, they make it easy for followers to gather and revel in their togetherness.

Create Rites & Rituals.

Cult followers want to feel like insiders, knowing things and enjoying access that others don’t. Cult brand leaders spend less time creating marketing communications and more time creating lexicons, traditions, symbols and privileges that help best customers feel like valued members of an exclusive club.

Be Relatable.

Cult followers treat specific businesses like close friends and seek out brand personalities and value systems that align with their own personal preferences. Cult brands perfect how they personify human attributes, and consistently bring their relatable persona to life across all aspects of the customer journey.

Pick a Fight.

Cult brand leaders target the alienated and intentionally appeal to those who want to separate themselves from the mainstream. A large number of cult brands provocatively challenge market leaders and attempt to derail the establishment that is more comfortable playing it safe by trying to please everyone.

Take the cult brand score card to see how your brand measures up.


Gala Celebration

The Pinnacle Awards Gala is a black-tie event celebrating The Honoree Brands and their brave leaders. This premium experience featuring dinner and entertainment is always a top highlight for every attendee. Available to in-person attendees only.
"There's no other event I've been to that puts such a premium on disruptive and innovative thinking. I genuinely believe that The Gathering is fast becoming the global voice for inspired brand management and the creation of loyal customer communities brands need to succeed today."
Jonathan Mildenhall Former Chief Marketing Officer | AirBnB


"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.