“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” - Gandhi
Creating a Passionate Community – The Cult Brand
Cult: Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or art work. Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate.
Certain brands have managed to instill die-hard loyalty in their consumers by giving them an experience, a feeling and an aura of a group identity, to which the consumers stay committed. Cult brands don’t just sell products or services: they sell lifestyles. A brand becomes a cult when it is not just a product, but a way of life. As Howard D. Schultz of Starbucks says "The product is the experience."
Successful Cult Brands foster a sense of shared experience and of belonging. To many of their followers, they are a living, breathing surrogate family filled with like-minded individuals. They are a support group that just happens to sell products and services.
In short, it is human nature to want to belong, and people like to associate with people who have similar interests. Therefore, the cult brands act as the bonding agent that draws people together.
Brands that have managed to build cult like followings are self-consciously different from rivals. They're bound by a set of values and they fulfill a range of needs for their customers that set them apart from the crowd. They cultivate their customers and allow them to become proud members of a “Counter Culture.”
The fastest-growing ones often project an aura, an attractive group identity. They make you feel a part of a select group - a member of a special tribe that believes passionately in something. They beget proselytizers -- customers who will chat up the brands within the customer community and proudly identify themselves as adherents. Nobody has to pay them. They are evangelists as well as customers. The brand is self-reinforcing.
The Dispassionate Community - The Mundane Brand
Brands fail for one primary reason: instead of building a brand people love, companies build brands no one hates. Most marketers live in a world where they are constantly searching for the flashy, the instant, or worst case short term profits.
This is the passionless existence. Work for hire. It is the mainstream. The culture we live in. This is the opportunity for "Cult Brands" to create a "Passionate Counter Culture".
Brands don't belong to marketers they belong to the customer. The customer's embrace is the only vote that counts, yet it is constantly ignored by strategies that place products and services as the “goal” rather than the means to satisfy a customer’s needs, wishes, and fantasies. As brand "futurist" Andrew Zolli says: "When you get to the point where you're suing your customers over their use of your brand, it's time to change your business model."
Companies focused solely on profits will never fully realize the rewards of such an approach. A search for profit will never lead to a "Passionate Culture". Therefore, unlike cult brands, they try to be all things to all people - they are unwilling, or perhaps afraid, to stake out a niche without seeking a full accounting. Measuring success in short-term profits instead of allowing a passionate community to build and ultimately create the greatest long-term profits.
In other cases, companies want to develop cult brands, but can't figure out how. It's not easy to develop a product that people fall in love with. Effective cult branding is more than just generating hype - the product itself, and the image it projects, must have a special appeal that draws people in. For this, a passionate management team and organization are required.
Likewise, a cult following must be genuine and thrive at a grass-roots level. In fact, the more a product appears to be the slick output of a corporate brand marketing machine, the less likely that a cult will develop. Ultimately it is the passionate community of customers that will discover the truly passionate authentic brands.
Those are the communities in which Ajia “Angel” Group seeks to invest, promote, cultivateand share.
For detailed information on "Cult Brands" please visit the following websites. Much of the previous discussion borrows heavily from the sites listed below.