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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Contents
INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................... 5
What is Cult Branding?............................................................................................... 6
The Beginnings of a cult brand................................................................................... 8
Love the hate mail...................................................................................................... 9
The Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding................................................................11
Maslow: The Father of Cult Branding........................................................................13
Why the Hierarchy of Needs Is a Crucial Tool for Branding?.....................................14
So how does this relate to Cult Branding ?...............................................................15
CASE STUDIES OF CULT BRANDS.............................................................................. 16
The Volkswagen Beetle............................................................................................. 17
Apple........................................................................................................................ 19
CONCLUCION............................................................................................................ 21
Bibliography............................................................................................................. 25

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INTRODUCTION
We must know that brands don't belong to marketers. Brands belong to the customer. Brands are
spheres of influence, and the most magnetic brands win in the marketplace. Further then we try
to discover the seven rules of cult branding. In the end the paper concludes with the discussion
on world famous cult brands to uncover what actually made them attain that status. There are
important learnings in this work, not only for academicians, but practitioners as well.Cult Brands
are a special class of magnetic brands that command super-high customer loyalty and almost
evangelical customers or followers who are devoted to them. In this paper we try to unveil the
power of cult brands.

“If the business were to be spilt up, I would be glad to take the brands, trademarks and goodwill
and you could have all the bricks and mortar-and I would fare better than you.”
(John Stuart, Former Chairman of Quaker Oats Ltd)
Brand’s definition :-"a name, sign or symbol used to identify items or services of the sellers and
to differentiate them from goods of competitors."
However all brands are not Cult brands , even a successful brand may not be a Cult Brand. This
paper attempts to investigate what is a cult Brand and how is it different from other Brands?

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Most Brands fail for one primary reason: instead of building a brand some people love. Success creates magnetic brands—Cult Brands. it can be said. They get repeatedly chosen over the competition. So can most any breakfast cereal if it's tasty enough. Apple Computer. wishes. companies build brands no one hates. Coke. Successful brands embrace their customers by anticipating basic and spiritual human needs. the trivial. To be cult is by definition to be obscured. Cult Brands are a special class of magnetic brands that command super-high customer loyalty and almost evangelical customers or followers who are devoted to them. Levis or Sony will never be a cult brand. In almost every category of things there will be a standout secret brand that only the most devoted know about. You will almost certainly know a few yourself. and fantasies. yet it is constantly ignored by strategies that place our products and services as the “goal” rather than the means to satisfy our customer’s needs. Ignore the hype. The great thing about cult brands is you feel like you are part of something bigger than the object itself. A cult brand is not something you will ever see on an Inter brand survey. according to a new book. I don't know them all. not once or twice.What is Cult Branding? Brands are spheres of influence. The Power of Cult Branding: How 9 Magnetic Brands Turned 3 . year after year. Volkswagen. but week after week. You know because you are obsessed. and several others. Any toothpaste can be popular. take popularity to a different level. and the most magnetic brands win in the marketplace. not because you have watched a 30 second spot on television. I know a couple. the instant—in short. Star Trek. These are thesocalled cult brands: Harley-Davidson. But here's the question: Would you ever talk about toothpaste or breakfast cereal with your friends? A few special brands. Most marketers live in a world where they are constantly searching for the flashy. Many brands claim to be popular. The customer's embrace is the only vote that counts.

Too!). and a cult brand at that." he said. he added. 4 . there are definite pointers to keep in mind. 3. high-caffeine beverage. a panelist and co-author of The Power of Cult Branding. vice president of innovation for Pepsi. though. 2.Drink a six-pack of your beverage every day: a high-sugar. which oversees MountainDew. This happened to Apple Computer after it changed the color of its multicolored apple logo to solid red.Name babies after your brand.Customers into Loyal Followers (and Yours Can. Cult brands "dare to be different." observed Matt Ragas. are named Espen. The three babies. born to different sets of parents in the past 2-1/2 years. Even Oprah Winfrey is a brand. This happened to the sports channel ESPN. Some of the original Apple logos. but what is a manager to think? How does a brand cross the line fromhohum to heaven-sent. said Lee Ann Daly. are now bought and sold on the online auction site eBay. respectively. to be one that customers will really champion? Should every brand be groomed for potential cult status? What are the pleasures and perils of managing a cult brand and its sometimes-obsessive customers? As revealed at the student-run Harvard Business School Marketing Conference held in November. having written a book about it. But cult branding is not a viable path for every company. Espn. the management and marketers behind it are willing to take big risks and they understand the potential pay-off. and Espn (again!). senior vice president of marketing for ESPN and a participant in the conference session. Cult brands sell lifestyles. For starters. the authors say That's all fine. Most companies don't have the risk-taking mentality…. not just a product or service. you know you've got a cult brand when customers do the following: 1. "I would love to say it is. This is the happy situation for Mountain Dew. reported Phil Schiller.In cult branding.Become highly emotional when you change the color of your logo. but it's not. said Frances Richford.

added Daly. speaking of herself and her ESPN colleagues. One hard lesson for companies. but instead what we try to do is celebrate the fact that we're fans. that's the beginning of a cult." Even though every product doesn't have cult potential. A cult brand distinguishes itself from other brands by forging a human connection with the customer in a way that toothpaste or cereal can't. Another challenge for cult brand companies is to keep evolving in a way that doesn't alienate core followers. Hush Puppies and Abercrombie & Fitch are other mainstream brands that have turned into success stories. advised ESPN's Daly." said Britchford." she added.The Beginnings of a cult brand To master cult branding. The Mountain Dew soft drink has been a cult product since its successful "Been there. there are many examples of mainstream products that have reinvented their image and achieved cult status. "Timberland was out there for many years before it achieved cult status. The programming mix needs to speak to both audiences. it is important to know what your company is and isn't. "With ESPN. we could have shoved down people's throats the idea that we were an authority. they may give pushback but they will accept it.if you stay authentic to what you originally stood for and true to the core. according to PepsiCo's Britchford. in a way that is entertaining and interesting and perhaps delightful and makes people talk to each other. The tastes of people who watched ESPN when it began in 1979 are different from the tastes of viewers aged twelve to nineteen who are just now coming to the channel. Britchford said. subsequent campaigns for Mountain Dew have kept tweaking the image to maintain momentum. is to stay one step ahead and shake things up when everyone at the organization is feeling most cozy." 5 . although the ad mix does alternate its target audience by using in-jokes for one or another group of viewers." said Ragas." she said. "Bottom line. These brands became cult brands because customers could find a sense of belonging within that product category and wear it as a badge of honor. "If you can find the right way to do it. "We are fans first. "Change is good. done that" ad campaign targeting the youth crowd. Hit though it was.

and market past that. And you have to deal with those people because they are your customers. Some of the customers are screaming and swearing and angry." 6 . You have to care about your customer…I get 300 e-mails a day and I have to respond to every one. At the same time.You have to deal with their rage and accept it and be proud of that. that the reason you're getting this hate mail with screaming and swearing is because they love your product. several did admit that cult brands inspire great passion in their followers. 'A-ha! I knew you were that kind of company. "All these brands help give people an identity. "What you find is the cult/fetish customer is more passionate and therefore contacts you when he or she is most upset. So you get a lot of angry customers who feel they have the right to fight for their brand and [that] it's something bigger than any one person and any one company.." lamented Schiller. Smart companies regard their cult brands as an asset and never rest on their laurels. Cult brands hit on that fine line. Said Schiller. Apple's senior vice president for worldwide product marketing: "There are strange people out there and they seem to have a personality that has a strong affinity to attach to things like cults." A cult brand can also constrict by making the press and Wall Street analysts too eager to typecast your company. People like to be different." he advised. sometimes negatively. panellists said. "Accept it. realizing that even a brand people love in its present form has got to grow and change to survive. "One customer in tie-dye with long frizzy hair shows up at a meeting and they go..stop balancing act. and they're fighting with their passionate views. and that can lead marketers into a non. Added author Ragas.Love the hate mail Though no panellist complained about their customers. they would like to be part of a group that acts different. they love your brand.

Although each of the nine brands was clearly different. Not only do you start getting some really good answers. their individual formulas for Cult-Branding success shared many of the same core ingredients.Why do people love this brand? Why are they so loyal to it? What does this brand mean to them? Why? Why? Why! An interesting thing starts happening after you've asked a lot of questions for a long enough period of time. Think of this list as your indispensable "Cult Branding Cliff Notes. but you begin to see patterns and similarities between the responses that you receive. Read them. but they will give you a nice overview and practical framework to utilize in your own marketing endeavours." Here they are. This was exactly what happened in the dozens of interviews conducted. Use them! 7 . These seven points won't tell you everything there is to know about Cult Branding. Clear patterns emerged.

Cult Brands focus on serving the customers they already have. since as human beings we are inherently social animals. Cult Brands are always fun. but we all enjoy being different and standing out from the rest of the pack. 2 – The Golden Rule of Courage CultBrand inventors show daring and determination. They don't try to attract hypothetical new customers. 1 – The Golden Rule of Social Groups Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different. They cheer us up when we're down. Not only do they provide escape. they help us enjoy life.The Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding. and act the same. 4 – The Golden Rule of Human Needs Listen to the choir and create Cult-Brand evangelists. took significant risks. Consumers are tired of being bombarded with products and services that all look the same. Cult Brands stay with us. They make us happy. Bland brands fade from memory. 3 – The Golden Rule of FunCult Brands sell lifestyles. At their core. We use these devices to form and maintain distinct social groups. They look to 8 . We not only enjoy being part of groups made of likeminded individuals. feel the same. They want surprises. Our society is addicted to communication. but the companies develop and sell tools that allow followers to pursue their dreams and celebrate new lifestyles. and produced new and different things. Consumers embrace Cult Brands and are loyal to them because their creators pushed the limit. Human beings want to have fun.

these are the things that are lost. They don't' discriminate. They kept the customers involved in decision making 9 . TAKE CARE OF YOUR CUSTOMER! That is what all seven rules are all about. They develop strong relationships through developing and supporting customer communities. and Cult Brands promote this freedom and nonconformity. and they'll become incredible evangelists.CultBrand companies work hard to create memorable experiences for their customers. Exclusivity doesn't exist. Cult-Brand companies continually find new ways to give back to their customers for their passion and devotion. 7 – The Golden Rule of Freedom Cult Brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies. They remain humble and personable. The nine cult brands that were mentioned above were able to weather the storm because of customer loyalty.. and cost cutting. and reward them. They stay fresh in the minds of the faithful with brand consistency. Somehow in the age of balance sheets. They draw strength and unity from identifying and targeting an archenemy—a group that conflicts with the company's values and goals.the congregation. Human beings cherish their freedom. These rules to me are obvious. They openly embrace anyone who is interested in their company. value their opinions. 5 – The Golden Rule of Contribution Cult Brands always create customer communities. Cult-Brand companies don't build imaginary profiles of ideal customers. Do extraordinary things for them. ROI. 6 – The Golden Rule of Openness Cult Brands are inclusive.

kept the customers in a community. This is where the work of the late. places. groups. If you cater to a loyal customer not only will they become a life long customer.process. a term Maslow coined to describe the ultimate human need to learn. Every company is able to do it. causes.At progressively higher levels in Maslow's Hierarchy are the needs for safety and security. we are drawn to people. they will spread the cult message. and served the brand to them to live by. grow. shelter. which include basic things like food. At the bottom levels of the pyramid are our physiological needs. It will spread like a virus. andself-esteem. Maslow: The Father of Cult Branding Why are certain brands so important and meaningful to some customers that they feel compelled to tell the world about them? What makes them go that extra mile? Understanding human behaviour—what motivates people to do certain things and act certain ways—is at the very core of successful marketing. They just have to be honest and listen to the customer. great psychologist Abraham Maslow comes in. Maslow postulated that we humans have an ascending order of needs and used a hierarchal pyramid to prioritize them. This is a marketers dream. Every company should strive for a cult following from there best customers. brands that we believe can help us towards our ultimate goal of self-actualization and total fulfilment. both to be at peace with ourselves and to try to be the best we can be. As humans. and reach one's full potential as a person. companies. ultimately. At the very top is selfactualization. 10 . social interaction. and. Every marketer must known to hug their customers and attempt to make a cult brand. and clothing that we all need to survive. We all desire on some level to self-actualize.

the higher level needs become influential in motivating behavior. "Man is a perpetually wanting animal. As Maslow notes time and time again in his work. and esteem basically do not exist at this point. Logically. In short. So. True customer loyalty is not only about getting a customer to consistently choose your brand over another. once an individual has satisfied his or her lower level needs. you ask? The answer is. we fill our low physiological needs first. However. It is the brands that can fulfill human needs on the higher levels of the hierarchy that become irreplaceable in the mind of the consumer. higher level needs influence future human behavior much greater than lower level needs. Higher needs like safety. Maslow never mentions the phrase "brand loyalty" in his books. but his Hierarchy of Human Needs and concepts like self-actualization are key to understanding why consumers consistently choose one brand over another and enjoy such strong relationships with them. That's what customer loyalty is really all about: being irreplaceable. It's for that same customer to always believe (and then go tell the world) that your company's brand has no equal! 11 ." Maslow's writings break down the underlying drivers of human behavior and decision making. why is fulfilling higher level needs so integral to building strong customer loyalty? What's the connection. survival comes first. social interaction.Why the Hierarchy of Needs Is a Crucial Tool for Branding? Perhaps the most important thing to take away from Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs is his theory that all human beings start fulfilling their needs at the bottom levels of the pyramid.

andself-actualization. Cult Branders enjoy incredible loyalty because they work hard to connect with their customers at the very highest level of Maslow's Hierarchy. They don't just offer great products and services. but they fulfill needs for social interaction. and clothing that we all need to survive At progressively higher levels are the needs for safety and security. and self esteem. They make customers believe that your brand has no equal. At the top is self -actualization–Maslow's term for the ultimate human need to learn. and reach one's full potential as a person. shelter. esteem. which include basic things like food. 12 . grow. So how does this relate to Cult Branding ? Higher level needs influence future behavior much more than lower level needs. social interaction.Self-actualisation Esteem needs Belongingness and Love needs Safety needs Biological and Physiological needs At the bottom are physiological needs.

O.). as well as an increase in parts and merchandise sales. The spread of these groups was gorilla marketing at its best: membership was generated primarily from inexpensive promotions at dealerships and word-of-mouth. groups gave enthusiasts a structured way to meet. They started sponsoring rallies around the country. chapters started appearing around the country. Given financial constraints.O. Harley made a wise move in requiring every H. In 1983 CEO Vaughn Beals announced the launch of the Harley Owners Group (H. within a few years H. The result of this stipulation was a tighter relationship between Harley dealers and the customers. they couldn’t afford to fail. But. not only did they solidify their communities. which he saw as a grassroots way to reconnect Harley’s brand and lifestyle with its most faithful customers. The choice was simple: drastically improve the quality of the motorcycles and develop strong customer ties or go out of business. They didn’t stop with creating members groups. H.G.G. The executives risked their corporate lives with an $80 million buyout on a turnaround situation that looked almost impossible. In doing so. Despite an initial lack of acceptance. the whole company’s back was against the wall. and schedule rides with other evangelists. They had to make it. Harley started copying Japanese production techniques and quality control.O. chapter to have a dealership sponsor. swap stories. Harley couldn’t engage in a traditional advertising campaign to win over customers.G.CASE STUDIES OF CULT BRANDS Harley Davidson To say that Harley had fallen on hard times by 1981 would be a drastic understatement.O.G. but they also used the rallies 13 . and released the new “Evolution” engine in 1983 that put an end to oil leaks and other quality issues. Japanese companies were destroying the company on pricing and Harley-Davidson’s bikes had lost the quality that made them famous.

This concept reaches its apex each year at Bike Week in Daytona Beach and the Sturgis Rally and Races in South Dakota. In creating these events. and backgrounds.S.mouth buzz. They bring motorcycles to the rallies for people to tryout. races. Opinions they receive from customers affect what is produced in product lines and the way they run their rallies. Given the opportunity to actually see and drive a Beetle. Harley takes feedback its employees receive at these events very seriously. but back in 1948 it was unknown in the U..S. partly because of its association with Nazi Germany—being dubbed “the people’s car” by Adolph Hitler—still fresh in the public’s mind. what Harley is ultimately selling through its motorcycles is the opportunity to experience the feelings of raw freedom and empowerment that one receives from strapping on some leather and riding a bike down the open road. This allows Harley to rack up higher-margin sales. It wasn’t an overnight success.S. not the front. but it started to get attention from the press and generated word-of. Virtually everything about the Beetle’s design screamed it was a car like no other: its air-cooled engine was mounted in the back. The Volkswagen Beetle Today the Beetle is regarded as arguably the best-selling car of all time. a significant chunk of the American public soon found themselves in love with the reliable and affordable little. and many sales types believed no one would ever buy. a configuration that made it more adept than anyU.as a killer sales tool. 14 . German car.-made car of the time for safe driving in rain. Collectively. This desire to appeal to the customer has been extended to the point that Harley offers the option of customizing their motorcycles. while allowing consumers who buy a custom Harley feel like they are not only joining the “Harley nation. They brought twenty Beetles to the U.” but that they are also exercising their own individuality. the events attract over half a million Harley enthusiasts. and paying attention to its customers. International Trade Fair in Chicago. These are feelings common to Americans of all ages. to a private showing in New York City and then to the First U. Volkswagen remained undeterred. like every other domestic gas guzzler of the period. Despite initial failures at introducing the Beetle into America.S.

with its egg-shaped body standing in sharp contrast to the large and sleek.” “Some shapes are hard to improve on. This was the thinking person’s car. look how much I paid for my car. Volkswagen focused on developing a unique marketing message (the say and the feel) for the Beetle. As Bug Tales author Paul Klebahn summed up: “The Beetle tended to appeal to freethinkers. direct.’” explained Steve Keys. the Beetle became a magnet for legions of Americans who saw themselves as being different.chrome-covered domestic behemoths of the period.sleet. In contrast to the advertising of the Detroit automakers of the 1950s and 1960s. which was full of slick copy and boastful claims. Some of the more memorable early print ads included “Think small. and honest. ‘Oh. ‘I can see myself in that car. In addition to developing a unique design (the look). They wanted their funky-shaped and lovable car to be the centre of attention. it was look how much I didn’t pay!” When Volkswagen launched the New Beetle in 1998. that’s who drives a Beetle. we never included people in the ads because we didn’t want a person to say. Director of Corporate Communications. it’s exterior design was unique. which quickly helped build strong affection for it among its owners. The Beetle’s appearance oozed a curious combination of personality and practicality. Instead of saying. Volkswagen’s ads for the Beetle were frank.” and the cultbranding clincher. not an actor or actress. they made a conscious decision not to show any drivers in its ads. “We wanted you to be able to say. 15 . and snow. “Do you earn too much to afford one?” The combination of unique design elements and honest advertising became a killer combination. By the early 1960s.’” It was a good move: everyone from teenagers buying their first car to aging baby boomers hoping to recapture their youth purchased the car. Volkswagen benefited from not shrinking its potential audience of buyers: No one had trouble seeing themselves behind the wheel of a New Beetle. “In the New Beetle’s initial advertising.

Apple announced the launch of the sleekly designed iPod.Apple Apple Computers is the epitome of self-empowerment and self-fulfillment combined in one brand. As Christopher Escher. “the rest of us” were those brave individuals who wanted to control their own destinies and break free of the system’s controlling grip and authoritarian ways. While not the first digital music player. into symbols of self-realization and liberation against social constraints. revamped marketing. and new product launches. Then. the digital download service. In the eighties. after more than a decade away from Apple. things were looking pretty grim for Apple. While Apple continued to have millions of loyal customers around the world. and transformed it into the digital music player by which all others are now measured. and the firm’s overall share of the PC market was continuing to slip. Apple started its now famous ad campaign with silhouetted figures rocking out to tunes. ease of use. and the sleek design. How else to describe a Cult Brand whose original slogan for the Macintosh was. which are essentially a product for business people to crunch numbers with. These ads injected a human element into a market that focused 16 . through a savvy combination of internal cost-cutting. Apple painted this dark controlling force as being IBM. noted: “They turned computers.” In the mid-nineties. After the launch of iTunes. Steve Jobs came back as interim CEO in 1997. it lacked strong leadership at the top. Jobs. turned Apple around. “the computer for the rest of us”? Of course. while in the nineties it became Microsoft and Bill Gates. in April 2003. In 2001. Apple focused on the small size of the device. former VP of Corporation Communications. or that it would fail outright. it endured this period thinking that any day a large competitor would buy it out. the market lacked quality and was absent of any standout devices. The company was steadily losing money.

and passed over 1 billion downloads on iTunes. In the first fiscal quarter of 2006. Apple is able to give its customers the product enhancements they really want instead of guessing what the whims of the customers might be. This attention to what customers want—form. and individuality—has paid off more than anyone could have ever guessed. ease of use. And. For starters. the highest in the company’s history. Apple has sold over 42 million iPods. they build products that their faithful want. Apple doesn’t just build products. To date. as well as employee discounts at the company store. They continually gather feedback for Apple and look for Mac success stories to share. Apple also asks individuals who run successful Mac User Groups in their communities to participate and to help Apple work with less successful user groups in the region. By following this game plan.solely on the boring technological aspects of the devices. 17 . Apple hosts a User Group University at Macworld expo where leaders from Mac UserGroups— those essentially independent clubs started by Apple aficionados—meet with each other for a full day of workshops and conversations about Apple’s latest products. they have a variety of interesting ways of preaching and listening to the choir. leading them to $565 million in revenue. Apple showers all attendees with free logo merchandise. Apple realized that people don’t just want to carry music. they want to jam out to songs that reflect their personalities. Apple reported sales of over 14 million iPods. Not only does Apple come away with invaluable feedback from a great group of customers. but it reenergizes the key faithful.

Customer loyalty Robust markets have seen companies suffer from the ‘Revolving Door Syndrome’. while some remain mere brands. Racing through difficult terrains. and promoting interaction among proud owners. The Bug still is the passion of millions. dedicated to restoring and driving old Bugs. In fact. and yet others slip into oblivion? The answer to this question lies in understanding the DNA of Cult brands realised Matthew W Ragas – co-author of the best selling book The Power of Cult Branding. The mystique charm of the Bug and the emotional connection it makes with its owners made the company relaunch the car in 1999.CONCLUCION The Bug hit the roads with a vroom in the year 1938. when it went into mass production. outpaced Henry Ford’s T-model as the world’s best selling automobile in 1981. This means that companies experience high customer attrition rates and face low customer loyalty. What fascinates marketers and business pundits about the Beetle is how it managed to stay at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for five decades. Its passion like this that makes it a Cult Brand. VW had stopped importing the Bug into the US market since 1977. He decided to scrutinise ‘cult brands’ and break down their success formula into actionable points. Volkswagen Beetle aka The Bug. There are hundreds of active fan clubs. This syndrome has left business pundits and academicians pondering about: Why do some brands enjoy deep customer loyalty and become ‘cult brands’. Rallies and meets of classic Beetles still cast a magic spell on thousands of obsessed ‘Beetlers’. While many sporty sprites slip out of the fast lane into the deserted streets of oblivion. Defining a cult brand 18 .

benign cults are harmless and fulfill the emotional wants and desires of their followers in a positive and meaningful manner. Volkswagen Beetle. Benign cults and their followers cherish a mutually beneficial 19 . Benign cults are candid in their mission and goals.Ragas defines a cult brand as those that make a deep impact and establish an emotional connection with the customer. Interestingly. They are: Star Trek.something that is absent among brands with ‘mass appeal’.almost obsessive about them . Pepsi. Besides. marketers assume that spending staggering amounts to build brand awareness assures their products a cult brand status. renowned thought-reformspecialist. Companies like Coke. but they aren’t always fervent about it. Quite like the Harley-Davidson! Awesome Nine Ragas and his co-author BJ Bueno identified nine such brands that perfectly fit the definition of cult brands. all these brands began their journey on a shoestring budget.and Vans shoes. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). followers of cult brands see no viable alternative for them in the market. They have the power to convert their customers into brand evangelists. Oprah Winfrey. These are the brands that enjoy the most fanatical and loyal customer following. Linux. Apple. Jimmy Buffet. According to Rick Ross. Ironically. Cult brands Vs Benign cults Business pundits draw a comparison between cult brands and benign cults. and consistently connect with their customers at the very highest levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What gives brands their cult status is that customers become passionate . yet they are miles away from being cult brands! The reason: Consumers might enjoy having a Coke or eating a burger. Microsoft. Walt Disney and McDonald’s might have the largest marketing budgets. Brand awareness – half the battle won More often than not. Harley-Davidson. building brand awareness is only half the solution. none of these brands can brag of strong customer relationships that score high on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. More importantly.

All these nine cult brands have a strong ‘sharing’ and ‘collaborative’ component attached to them. Companies will have to be open and inclusive. Surrogate family Cult brands leave a legacy. race. They enjoy the patronage of a diverse customer base cutting across the barriers of age.relationship. these brands play the role of a ‘surrogate family’ for consumers in a jittery market. ‘niche’. human beings resist change. cult brand companies scoff at their very mention. Here are the traits that can give companies a commanding lead in their marketing endeavours: All-encompassing: ‘Exclusivity’. By nature. gender. Cult brands offer the protection that consumers look for – in terms of values. belief systems. Success commandments Why is it that customers are mesmerised by the power of cult brands and speak about them like a person seated next to them? Why do the relationships of cult brands still retain their magic? Why is it that these brands still enjoy peak emotional connectivity? It’s the traits of cult brands that hold sway. ISKON is a case in point. For the brand. and background. with both receiving immense satisfaction. Cult brands develop a similar rapport with their customers. They will have to ponder over questions like: What are consumer needs? Which of these needs can the brand fulfil? Listen to the choir: Listen to thy customers and act on their advice. and ‘target marketing’ are buzzwords in markets today. and ideas. this evocation translates into a passionate customer base. When caught in a rapidly changing environment. brands like Linux and Apple enjoy the fiery passion and loyalty 20 . To sum it up succinctly. The Oprah Winfrey show has established an emotional bond with diversified customer-segments by engaging in a tête-à-tête with them. Thanks to the strong belief in these two components. In stark contrast. irrespective of its line of business. they seek refuge in places and people they are comfortable with.

Something that iconic brands gained! 21 . and approachable personality. and timeless. incomparable.of consumers. The open source development process on which Linux built its operating system is a classic example of openness. The job of the marketer doesn’t end by earning his brand a ‘cult status’. Companies often undermine the role of their employees in generating an open environment. However. Tout openness and inclusiveness: Advertising helps companies to send their message of openness and inclusiveness. The ad carries the very essence of Oprah Winfrey’s shows. Harley-Davidson’semployeesare encouraged to mix and mingle with customers. and acts’ in reality. They should encourage them to speak their mind. Oprah Winfrey’s smiling photograph on the cover page of its ‘O’ magazine is a case in point. a backlash is inevitable if the message differs from how the product or service ‘walks. It touts Oprah Winfrey as a warm. talks. The next destination is to make it irreplaceable. friendly.

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