My Take on Cult Branding
By James Ogunjimi
Last week,about I told my friends on Facebook that I was going to do some writing on cult branding and the response was encouraging. So, here goes…
Cult branding is how you create human experiences that give the people involved a feeling of belonging. It gives them a sense of shared consciousness with others and inspires loyalty from them.
To build a cult brand, you need to have a thorough understanding of your customers and clients, and what makes them tick.
Building a cult brand of course starts with providing a great service or having a great product. Without that, to build a cult following around your business or product will be difficult.
What are you offering? Take a close look at the word cult itself. Let’s take it back to its literal meaning temporarily. What’s the catch for cult groups on campus? Minus those forced to join against their will of course.
Some promise protection. They promise that you won’t fail in school because they’ll force the lecturer to pass you. They promise you won’t be broke because you have enough power and men to collect money from anyone. They promise you the finest women.
It all starts with that feeling of belonging to a group that can give you everything and grows into you enjoying those benefits. That’s why cultists will kill for their groups. That’s why they’ll become enemies of people that are not their direct enemies but enemies of the group. That’s why they’ll spread the news too and bring others in.
It’s the same way with building a cult around your brand. Some businesses have so many loyal customers that won’t use any other product or service that’s not XYZ.
I wrote about my generator repairer a while back. He does not open on Sundays. If my generator spoils on Saturday night after he has closed, I’d brave the heat and wait till Monday to let him fix it rather than let someone else work on it. Why?
Because, he is really good at what he does. That’s the great service part.
I have also taken my gen to him a number of times and he would work on it, and refuse to collect money because it was a tiny fault. Others would have charged me for that but he didn’t. That’s part of the sense of belonging part that lets you know that you are already a known person to this business, you’re family, and as such, you get a pass for this.
Where did that lead me? It led me to writing rave reviews about him on my blog and on social media even without him asking me to.
When you build a cult brand, that brand does not just inspire loyalty in people, it turns them into unpaid brand evangelists for your business, which is a good thing because the most effective and believable form of marketing is word-of-mouth. People can doubt ads. They can doubt influencer marketing. They can doubt copies you write about your business online. But they can’t doubt a recommendation made by their friend about how so and so product or service is really good.
When you have built a brand that people would wait hours for, wait days for, to have access to or to get, and will talk about to others, you are well on your way to building a cult brand.
I saw a clip (can’t remember where 🤦) about a fancy restaurant where you will prepare the food yourself. I think its pasta or something. But they’ll give you the ingredients and everything and the ingredient is really spicy and stuff. So, you probably can never go wrong.
Why would people leave their houses, dress up and go to a fancy restaurant on a date to cook their own food and still pay for that food?
It starts with a complete belief in how good their ingredients that can only be found in their restaurant is. In this case, it is possible that a friend or colleague that has nothing to gain from marketing the restaurant dropped a comment at trying the pasta in so and so, because I doubt that any ad can convince me to leave my house, dress up and go cook a food that I still have to pay for in a fancy restaurant.
Apple used to (not sure if they still do) have a meet for group admins of Mac User groups. There, they get feedback on products, what those in the groups are saying, then they give their own feedback too and the admins relay it back to them.
Imagine how much of a community that’s capable of building and the sense of belonging in knowing that you can influence the next update, and stuff.
Building a cult brand requires you to understand the customers or target audience in the first place and what makes them tick. Then you lean into it by providing them with experiences that make them insiders and give them a sense of belonging. But first it starts with a great product or service, and then a cool customer service, and build on from there.
Can you name a brand (product or service) that you’re loyal to no matter what and would rather walk or travel a long distance or wait a long period of time to get it or have access to it rather than use or buy something else?
Based on this long story (😂😂) I’ve written, can you try to understand why? What made you become loyal to them? Why can’t you use another product?
By James Ogunjimi