As we approach another year, I wonder why some brands age more than others; indeed, for some, it seems that no time passes at all.

A few months ago we presented in our report “The gender and age of brands“The results of a survey carried out in Spain. Interestingly, among the brands perceived as younger, there was a wide range of centenarian brands: Danone (1919), Nestlé (1866), Coca-Cola (1886), etc.; while others that were younger at birth appeared to be older. It is clear that brands need to evolve constantly to remain attractive and relevant, but apparently, they do not all age equally.

The brands that remain have known how to perfectly combine their legacy with a changing vision of the consumer’s reality at any given moment. Some of them have even become cult brands: Apple (1976), Harley-Davidson (1903), Lego (1932), Mini (1961)…

Once a brand becomes a cult brand it achieves an exclusive status that makes it impossible to ignore and connects directly with people’s emotions. You either love it or hate it. Customers of cult brands feel that they are part of something important, of a select group that is loyal to the brand because of its principles. Few brands manage to achieve it, we talked at the time of the enormous degree of commitment and engagement generated by the brands of the Sports Clubs, but it is also true that brand loyalty has never been as fragile as it is now.

What do cult brands have in common?

10 rules for creating cult brands

1. Loyalty. Shared values and feelings are the basis for generating engagement. Cult brands build a clear positioning that evolves but always respects their original DNA.

2. Courage. Finding one’s path, outside the standards, requires bravery and courage. Cult brands overcome the impediments that arise along the way and achieve the satisfaction of having overcome them.

3. Paradox. People share two antagonistic desires. The first is to feel exclusive, the second is to be part of something. The combination of both is a great mix: being part of an exclusive, different group.

4. Community. A clear sense of belonging to a group generates loyalty, which in turn leads to recommendation, which increases interest in the community. Cult brands promote and encourage customer communities.

5. Transversality. Exclusivity has no boundaries; the larger the community, the greater the diversity of its members. Everyone is welcome and no one is discriminated against. Cult brands satisfy shared human desires.

6. Influence. Cult brands believe in themselves, their products, and their customers. They achieve their goals driven from within, with charismatic and often controversial leaders, who also know who they need to surround themselves with to expand their story.

7. Experiences. Customers want more than just things, they have aspirations and are looking for unique experiences, to be lived in their settings. Cult brands sell more than a product, they represent a lifestyle.

8. Honesty. Customers don’t want perfect brands, they just need to be honest. Every brand can make mistakes, but only those that admit them, correct them, and take measures to prevent them from happening again earn respect.

9. Listen. The ability to listen to and assess customer needs, as well as to offer solutions to discontent, is a fundamental tool to achieve loyalty over time.

10. Freedom. Within every human being there is a need for freedom. We all want to be free without fear of consequences. Customers of cult brands feel they can go further.

Integrating this set of principles eases the path to customer loyalty. Despite this, no brand is guaranteed longevity; everything will depend on its ability to continue connecting emotionally with its customers while attracting new stakeholders in its community.


Carlos Puig Falcó

President of Branward®

Photos: Shutterstock