Book: The Culting of Brands

  • Read: October 2012
  • Rating: 6.0/10

The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin isn’t a great book. It just isn’t. I’m surprised I pulled so many notes from the book, but I guess there were a few gems in there. I guess I feel as though the book wasn’t great because it just felt a lot like common sense to me. Perhaps a lot of this is revolutionary for marketers… but I feel as though most of this information can be understood just by thinking it over.

My Notes

Brands are the new religion

Reasons for joining a cult:

  • urges to belong
  • make meaning
  • feeling secure
  • having order within chaos
  • creating identity

Commitment is exclusionary

Devotion to one thing implicitly requires rejection of another. There is an opportunity cost to everything and joining an unorthodox belief system often demands a very high expenditure indeed.

Common belief = people join cults to conform. Actually they join to become more individual

Your brand actually has to be different, not just say “we’re different”

Recruits and existing members need to feel that they have a relationship with the others in the cult: Individuals bought into the group before they bought the idealogy, not the other way around

Principles of primacy of the person

  • Focus on the person
  • Get the right membership
  • Create opportunities for meeting and interaction
  • Remove distractions
  • Love-bomb

“The great American myth of individualism is so pervasive that it requires countering with the more powerful idea of man as a group animal. The rugged frontiersman and heroic entrepreneur are icons of individuality that have informed the driving cultural belief of survival of the fittest.”

Social interaction are now less formal, demand shorter periods of commitment, and are more focused on specific goals

People have less time to spare (duh)

Successful cults:

  • have high program of contact forcing contact between members
  • keep tabs on members
  • members run the programs themselves

Two critical characteristics of cohesive communities:

  1. Shared experience between members
  2. Sense of responsibility and mutual dependence

People today pay for meaning more than they pray for it

We adopt the language of our business and, often unconsciously, we measure ourselves and our life’s values against the values and purposes ofthe corporate entity that employs us

Cults and cult brands must have meaning systems

Brands are symbols

The opportunity cost of belonging to a cult is high

Successful revolutionaries are the ones who have figured out how to seduce the masses by making their proposition appear not so revolutionary (not sure I believe this or not)

Create a common goal for members- to fight an enemy, to right a wrong, to implement a better way

Destroyers of a cult:

  • a lack of perceived mutual investment
  • a decline in the internal cult that sustained the distinctive ideology
  • too much tension

Few stronger emotions exist than the need to belong and make meaning