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An Introduction To


brought to you by the creative minds of

CREATED BY bj bueno

DESIGNED BY melissa thornton

Š2009 The Cult Branding Company

The Power of CULT BRANDING Based on The Power of Cult Branding: How 9 Magnetic Brands Turned Customers into Loyal Followers (and Yours Can, Too!), co-authored by Bolivar J. Bueno.

“Who wants a cult brand? After reading The Power of Cult Branding, you are going to want to create one as soon as possible. The logic, the strategies, and the tactics are spelled out for you in comprehensive detail.” —Al Ries, author of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding “Ragas and Bueno have not only demystified branding in their brilliant book but also revealed the heart of how to do it with aplomb. And, at the same time, it's fun to read.” —Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the Guerrilla Marketing series “Cult brands, while not easy to create, are among the most powerful. This book will show the way.” —Jack Trout, coauthor of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

What are Cult Brands? • Brands are spheres of influence, and the most magnetic brands win in the marketplace. They get repeatedly chosen over the competition, not once or twice, but week after week, year after year. • 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.

Destructive and Benign Cults • Destructive cults harm, hurt, manipulate, and often brainwash their members. The leader of a destructive cult doesn't really care about the well being of the members. • Benign cults help fill the emotional needs and wants of their followers in a positive way. They and their followers enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship, with both receiving a real sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, belonging and enlightenment from the relationship.



Two Cults: One Benign, One Destructive

Cult Branding Can Work On Anyone Most people refuse to believe that they can become part of a cult, but this is far from the case. Jerry Whitfield, a former Scientologist and thought reform expert describes the typical cult member in a way that probably sounds a lot like you and those you know: “The general profile of a cult member is a person who has above average intelligence, is open and honest with other people, and anticipates that people will be open and honest back to them. This person has the ability to think in abstract terms and is probably altruistic. They want to help and change things. They want to improve their life and the lives of others.�

“They want to improve their life and the lives of others.�

“They want to improve their life and the lives of others.�

An Environment for Cult Branding • Today's society is the perfect environment for cult branders and cult brands. It is full of fragmentation, with increases in divorce rates, broken homes, and violence. As this fragmentation continues, the basic human need for feelings of security, belonging and social interaction does not go away. It can't be replaced. We all need to belong to a group. • Cult brands aren't just companies with products or services to sell. To many of their followers, they are a surrogate family filled with like minded individuals. They just happen to sell products and services.

Abraham Maslow: The Father of Cult Branding

Maslow postulated that humans have an ascending order of needs and used a hierarchical pyramid to prioritize them.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs •

At the bottom are physiological needs, which include basic things like food, shelter, and clothing that we all need to survive.

At progressively higher levels are the needs for safety and security, social interaction, and self esteem.

At the top is self -actualization - Maslow's term for the ultimate human need to learn, grow, and reach one's full potential as a person.

How Does This Relate To Cult Branding? • Higher level needs influence future behavior much more than lower level needs. • 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 needs for social interaction, esteem, and selfactualization. They make customers believe that your brand has no equal.

Apple works hard throughout the year to provide guidance, support and training to its dozens of Mac User Groups (MUGS).

What Makes A Great Cult Brand? • Time spent researching cult brands in print and through field work revealed that although each of the nine brands investigated were clearly different, their individual formulas for cult-branding success shared many of the same core ingredients. • These formulas can be broken down into The Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding.

#1 – The Golden Rule of Social Groups Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different.

Our society is addicted to communication. We use these devices to form and maintain distinct social groups, since as human beings we are inherently social animals. We not only enjoy being part of groups made of like-minded individuals, but we all enjoy being different and standing out from the rest of the pack.

“You can be weird together and basically feel weird no more.� - Rick Ross, cult intervention specialist

#2 – The Golden Rule of Courage Cult brand inventors show daring and determination. Consumers embrace cult brands and are loyal to them because their creators pushed the limit, took significant risk, and produced new and different things. Consumers are tired of being bombarded with products and services that all look the same, feel the same, and act the same. They want surprises. Cult brands stay with us. Bland brands fade from memory.

“This odd little egg shaped car is just plain ‘Ugly.’ It won’t sell.” - Early Critics

As the best-selling car in history, the critics were wrong

#3 – The Golden Rule of Fun Cult brands sell lifestyles. Human beings want to have fun. At their core, cult brands are always fun. They make us happy. They cheer us up when we're down; they help us enjoy life. Not only do they provide escape, but the companies develop and sell tools that allow followers to pursue their dreams and celebrate new lifestyles.

Jimmy - The King of FUN

#4 – The Golden Rule of Human Needs Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.

Cult brands focus on serving the customers they already have. They don't try to attract hypothetical new customers. They look to the congregation, value their opinions, and reward them. Do extraordinary things for them, and they'll become incredible evangelists.

Bike Rallies

Weekend Rides

#5 – The Golden Rule of Contribution Cult brands always create customer communities. Brand companies continually find new ways to give back to their customers for their passion and devotion. They remain humble and personable. They develop strong relationships through developing and supporting customer communities.


“BJ, HOG gives me a chance to meet with my friends and swap stories. I come to Daytona Bike Week year after year… Why? Because it is F#$@$ GREAT That’s why maaaan.” - My new friend Fred

#6 – The Golden Rule of Openness Cult brands are inclusive.

Cult brand companies don't build imaginary profiles of ideal customers. They don't' discriminate. They openly embrace anyone who is interested in their company. Exclusivity doesn't exist.

Cult Brands help their customers fulfill feelings, dreams and aspirations that are timeless and ageless.

#7 – The Golden Rule of Freedom Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies. Human beings cherish their freedom, and cult brands promote this freedom and nonconformity. Cult brand companies work hard to create memorable experiences for their customers. They stay fresh in the minds of the faithful with brand consistency. They draw strength and unity from identifying and targeting an archenemy-a group that conflicts with the company's values and goals.

“It’s as if other companies did not even want us riding their products.” - Stacy Peralta

Vans embraces the “outcasts.� They champion their lifestyles.

How can you apply these rules to your company's product or service?

The Cult Branding Company was bred for one purpose: to help companies be chosen more often than their competitors by serving their best customers. To find out more about how to make your competition irrelevant, and download free strategic articles and videos visit:

An Introduction to Cult Branding - the truth behind customer loyalty!  
An Introduction to Cult Branding - the truth behind customer loyalty!  

An Introduction to Cult Branding provides the basic understanding of what Cult Brands are as well as the guiding principles they all share....