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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.