Daily Archives: June 16, 2010

The Culting of Brands


Douglas Atkin has written the best book I have found on how to build a brand.  Atkin studied the psychology of cults and then applied his findings to consumer research.  He argues that people become addicted to brands the same way and for the same reason, that people join cults. A cult brand is a community for members run by the members (think HOGS and Harley-Davidson, or MAC user groups).  Atkin was featured in the PBS special, The Persuaders, which explores this world of branding as a cult phenomena.

Atkin explains two critical characteristics of cult brands: shared experience between members and a sense of responsibility and mutual dependence operate in a variety of organizations.  Storytelling is a classic form of experience sharing, and as such plays a pivotal role in the formation of a sustainable brand. Storytelling communicates a brand meaning system and the integrated system of symbology that maintains it.  Atkins shows us how brands are now serious contenders for building belief systems and community.


The Culting of Brands : Turn Your Customers into True Believers