What is a 'Cult Brand'

A cult brand refers to a product or service that has a loyal customer base that approaches fanaticism. A cult brand, unlike regular brands, has customers who feel a sense of ownership or vested interest in the brand's popularity and success. Cult brands have achieved a unique connection with customers, and are able to create a consumer culture that people want to be a part of. Examples of modern cult brands include the Mini Cooper, Harley-Davidson, Vespa, Zappos and Apple.

Breaking Down 'Cult Brand'

For devout followers of a cult brand, their relationship with the brand is a mixture of both love and madness. The brand symbolizes a specific lifestyle and becomes more of an identity. To cult brand buyers, buying a product enables them to fit in with a certain group, or culturally as a whole. Cult brands tend to succeed in creating a community based on common habits, choices or affinities.

Cult brands are an example of what is known as a "benign cult," in which followers are extremely dedicated to a product or service that the brand represents. Such cults are not harmful. They tend to welcome fellow devotees who have discovered a brand that represents them and fulfills their wants and needs without harming them.

Cult Brand Characteristics

Cult brands tend to have several characteristics in common. For example, they tend to be distinctive, meaning that they provide an alternative style or feeling that differs from existing brands. They help people differentiate themselves. Cult brands also tend to represent a cultural shift, often starting with a small group of dedicated followers who spread their message. As such, cult brands also tend to have a compelling, persuasive story behind them, such as an origin story. They also have enough recognition and respect that they are able to create trends. Cult brands are also persistent in that they tend last many generations. Some

Cult Brand vs. Regular Brands

A brand, by definition, is a distinguishing logo, mark, sentence, symbol, slogan or word that identifies a particular product. Companies use various strategies to improve brand recognition and build brand equity. Very recognizable brands include Nike, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. Cult brands may or may not be widely advertised, but they do tend to exemplify the spirit of the era they occupy. Companies that attempt to elevate a regular brand to cult status with the use of a marketing campaign may find it very difficult; cult brands tend to be more grassroots in nature and may take many years to elevate to cult brand status. Sometimes one feature or aspect of a company or product will enable the rise of a brand to cult status. Examples could include free, fast shipping, a very permissive return policy, scarcity, a special, unusual ingredient or exclusive product, or an association with an iconic person or event.

Cult Brand vs. Fads

Cult brands are different from fads. A fad is a short-lived "craze" where a particular product suddenly gains a lot of attention among a large population, marked by a temporary and excessive enthusiasm and then just as quickly fizzles out of style. Where fads are unsustainable and last only a short period of time, cult brands typically begin small and gradually build a steady following.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Brand Management

    Brand management is a function of marketing that uses techniques ...
  2. Brand

    A brand is an identifying symbol, mark, logo, name, word and/or ...
  3. Brand Recognition

    Brand recognition is the extent to which the general public (or ...
  4. Brand Equity

    Brand equity refers to a value premium that a company generates ...
  5. Brand Potential Index (BPI)

    The brand potential index (BPI) is the correlation between a ...
  6. Corporate Umbrella

    A corporate umbrella is a large, generally successful brand name ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Top 3 Cult Stocks for 2017

    Sometimes the story is much bigger than the stock, but these stocks have a cult following that might reflect a superior investment.
  2. Small Business

    The Power of Branding

    Power of branding is the ultimate economic moat, and we look at the approaches and effects of good and bad branding.
  3. Small Business

    How Companies Create A Brand

    We take a hands-on approach to creating a brand, and see what it can mean as an investor.
  4. Small Business

    Well-Established Brands Worth Billions

    We look at the most valuable brands in the world, and explain what makes them successful.
  5. Insights

    Tech and Auto Companies Dominate World's Most Valuable Brands List (AAPL, GOOG)

    Brand consultancy firm Interbrand released its 2016 ranking of the most valuable brands in the world, and technology and automotive brands dominated by holding a combined 29 positions. According ...
  6. Insights

    Apple Named Most Valuable Brand on Steve Jobs's Death Anniversary (AAPL, TSLA)

    Interbrands released this year's ranking of the hundred most valuable brands in the world, and U.S. companies Apple, Google and Coca Cola hold the top three spots.
  7. Insights

    7 Iconic Brands That No Longer Exist

    Understand the value of branding and what makes good brands great. Learn about seven iconic brands that failed and no longer exist.
  8. Small Business

    6 Branding Tips For Small Business Owners

    One of the most important areas for all businesses to utilize is branding.
  9. Insights

    4 Addictive Brands Consumers Crave

    Many product brands breed loyalty and obsession. Discover which ones people can't seem to live without.
  10. Investing

    Brands Develop Strategies to Counter Amazon

    Retailers are offering incentives to customers to shop at physical stores. Will this affect Amazon's bottom line?
RELATED FAQS
  1. What impact does brand equity have on profit margins?

    Learn how both positive and negative brand equity affects profit margins by influencing profit per customer, sales volume ... Read Answer >>
  2. How do tangible and intangible assets differ?

    Tangible assets are physical assets that are used in a company's operations. Intangible assets are nonphysical, long-term ... Read Answer >>
  3. Is the substitution effect negative for consumers?

    Explore whether the substitution effect is positive or negative for consumers as well as for retailers, manufacturers and ... Read Answer >>
  4. What are the elements of an effective value proposition?

    Learn what a unique value proposition is, and understand all of the elements that a company must include in constructing ... Read Answer >>
  5. Why is social responsibility important in marketing?

    Drive consumers toward products and services by prioritizing social responsibility in marketing to enhance the company's ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Diversification

    Diversification is the strategy of investing in a variety of securities in order to lower the risk involved with putting ...
  2. Intrinsic Value

    Intrinsic value is the perceived or calculated value of a company, including tangible and intangible factors, and may differ ...
  3. Current Assets

    Current assets is a balance sheet item that represents the value of all assets that can reasonably expected to be converted ...
  4. Volatility

    Volatility measures how much the price of a security, derivative, or index fluctuates.
  5. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
  6. Cost of Debt

    Cost of debt is the effective rate that a company pays on its current debt as part of its capital structure.
Trading Center