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Cult Brands

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Essay title: Cult Brands

Cult Brands

Maslow's postulated that we humans have an ascending order of needs and used a hierarchal pyramid to prioritize them. At the bottom levels of the pyramid are our physiological needs, which include basic things like food, shelter, and clothing that we all need to survive. At progressively higher levels in Maslow's Hierarchy are the needs for safety and security, social interaction, and self-esteem. At the very top is self-actualization, a term Maslow coined to describe the ultimate human need to learn, grow, and reach one's full potential as a person.

We all desire on some level to self-actualize, both to be at peace with ourselves and to try to be the best we can be. As humans, we are drawn to people, places, groups, causes, companies, and, ultimately, brands that we believe can help us towards our ultimate goal of self-actualization and total fulfillment.

Higher level needs influence future human behavior much greater than lower level needs. 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.

Brands sometimes like to think of themselves as religions. These are called cult brands (Holt) and organize their community of clients as a congregation, with a holy land or place, churches, rituals, etc. It has to be said that few of these brands actually evoke religious fervor in their subscribers.

That's what customer loyalty is really all about. Being irreplaceable.

True customer loyalty is not only about getting a customer to consistently choose your brand over another. It's for that same customer to always believe (and then go tell the world) that your company's brand has no equal!

This is when the customers form a cult. You need not look much farther than a Harley-Davidson rally, a Star Trek convention, or a Jimmy Buffett concert to see the cult branding phenomenon at work: thousands of passionate, faithful fans spreading the good word and spending lots of money.

Not all brands have the dash of edginess, the devoted fan base, or the niche positioning to be cult brands. But those that do tend to share similar characteristics that make them successful.

Douglas Atkins’ definition of “cult brand”:

“A brand for which a group of customers exhibit a great devotion or dedication. Its ideology is distinctive and it has a well-defined and committed community. It enjoys exclusive devotion (that is, not shared with another brand in the same category) and its members often become voluntary advocates.”

Cult branding is nothing but techniques used to generate devotion. Motivations, desires and attitudes of customers are key to the success of a cult brand.

Why Cult Branding works

Cult brands aren't just companies with products or services to sell. 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. This is the reason why these brands all have such high customer loyalty and devoted followers. That's how cult branding works.

Society only helps to accelerate the drivers behind its success.

Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding - B.J. Bueno

1. Consumers want to be part of a group that's different.

2. Cult brand inventors show daring and determination.

3. Cult brands sell lifestyles.

4. Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.

5. Cult brands always create customer communities.

6. Cult brands are inclusive.

7. Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power

from their enemies.

The Difference Between The Two Types Of Cult - Destructive and Benign Cults

Rick Ross, a well-known thought-reform consultant. For over fifteen years, Ross has studied cultic groups and helped rescue family members trapped inside cult compounds.

Ross describes destructive cults as "groups with an absolute authoritarian figure at the top of a pyramid scheme of authority where there is virtually no accountability for that leader." Destructive cults hurt, harm, manipulate, and often brainwash their members. The leader of a destructive cult really doesn't care about the well-being of the members. In fact, such leaders openly exploit and abuse their members, usually for their own personal benefit.


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