Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Does Your Brand Have Cult Status?

Creating The Ultimate Consumer Engagement

By David Miranda

cult –noun

  1. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers.
  2. the object of such devotion.
  3. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
  4. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

Some of our most successful brands are those that have achieved a cult status in society such as Starbucks, Nike, Volkswagen, and Apple to name a few. Consumer loyalty for these brands has achieved enviable status by their competitors beyond coffee, sportswear, automobile, and technology. They have become cultural icons that inspire emotional engagement. This cult status is reinforced in all aspects of their marketing. They understand their brand identity; develop and execute a precise brand strategy that includes both functional (tangible) and emotional (intangible) benefits. The following chart illustrates what each marketing person in the organization should utilize to ensure a one-mindedness throughout the enterprise.

Starbucks, for example, sells coffee (the tangible benefit) but also markets its locations as the "third place to socialize" after the workplace and home (the intangible). Nike sells sportswear (tangible) but also markets athletic ideals as in "Just Do It" (the intangible) which is reinforced with sports icons such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, etc.

The benefits of achieved brand cult status are considerable - strong brand loyalty and word-of-mouth, price premiums and higher margins, and strategic competitive advantage, to name a few.

As clutter and noise continue to muffle marketing messages, it is critical to clearly define the brand's identity, strategy, and its functional and emotional benefits in pursuing the ultimate goal of achieving brand cult status.