Today’s consumers face too many choices and have too little time. Rather than over-invest in mass media or markdowns, enlightened brand leaders exploit eight specific cult-brand principles in order to distance themselves from their mediocre peers. Our cult-brand principles consist of Be Remarkable, Have Purpose, Build From the Inside Out, Be Relatable, Co-Create, Pick a Fight, Congregate and Create Rites & Rituals. Let’s start from the top:
Too many businesses have commoditized offerings and must shout (i.e., paid media) or bribe (i.e., discounts) in order to be noticed. But cult brands create products, services and/or 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 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.
BUILD FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Cult brand leaders understand that no company can be-come 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.
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 key attributes, and consistently bring their relatable persona to life across all aspects of the customer journey.
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.”
PICK A FIGHT
Cult brand leaders target the alienated and intentionally appeal to those who want to separate themselves from the main-stream. 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.
Cult brand leaders find creative ways for their fans to assemble together, virtually or physically. Whether it’s supporting third-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 their best customers feel like valued members of an exclusive club.
Chris Kneeland, Ryan Gill and Rob Howard wrote this book to help more brand leaders display greater courage, dream bigger, and expect more from themselves and their organizations. Brands need raving fans who are hyper-engaged and capable of producing predictable profits, year after year. The eight attributes of cult brands discussed herein are the most dominant activities your brand should involve itself with in order to increase your odds of success.
Cult brands have honed in on the skills and culture needed to envelop consumers’ lives and truly engage in ways that deliver tangible value to the followers and the brand. Start by developing a deeper understanding of the path to purchase for each target audience, then engaging them with a variety of products, services, and experiences that help to embed your brand into their lives in meaningful ways. In summary, cult-brands don’t rely heavily on paid advertising to become pervasive, they deploy all eight of the cult-brand principles to engage customers, prospects and staff.
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