Cult Branding

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What is Cult?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines cult as "something fashionable or popular among a particular group of people". But when we are talking in reference to Brands it is much more. It means fascination towards these brands not because they deliver distinctive benefits, trustworthy service, or innovative technologies (though they may provide all of these). Rather, this brand fanaticism is due to the reason that these iconic brands forge a deep connection with the culture. In essence, they compete for culture share. (Holt, 2003) It means being passionate and being proud to own them. It’s not how the brand performs; it’s about what the brand stands for. Icons are valued because, through them, people get to experience powerful myths. Even a seemingly unremarkable product like Mountain Dew - water, sugar, green dye, and carbonation-can take on iconic power and keep it. (Holt, 2003) In a net shell “Cult Brand - ‘one’s icon, one’s ultimate desire.’” When the consumers of a brand start feeling these kinds of emotions inside them, it can be said that the brand has started to emerge as a cult brand. Take for example, Harley Davidson or IPod or Mountain Dew, there consumers worship their brand not because they are the best or they are of most utility to them but due to the fact that their possession or usage gives them a feeling of pride, a feeling no other brand can give them.

What is Brand?

Many organizations use the term “product manager” interchangeably with “brand manager”. While most of us could think through the semantic difference between a “product” and a “brand”, it seems that (with a few exceptions) the two concepts are not distinguished when used to describe their management. This is a mistake. (Chevron, 1998)

Defining Product
The product is defined by its form and function, what it is and what it does. The product is physical attributes, such as formulation, performance, price, style, design and ease of use. What a product is can be relatively easily communicated, rapidly changed and effected in the short term using a number of tools: just add a new ingredient or change the shape of the packaging and you have a new product or, at least, a different one.

A good product marketing tactician is one who can distil a large amount of data about the consumer, the market, the competition, distribution, and boil them down to the few essential premises that will form the backbone of a focussed marketing plan. He should be able to distil these premises even further to write an effective communication strategy which, as any honest advertising person will tell you, must be based on a single-minded selling proposition. This ability to distil facts down to their simple essence presupposes an excellent knowledge and understanding of the product’s buyers and consumers. (Chevron, 1998)

Defining Brand
The brand is almost the opposite on all points. Whereas the product has a form, the brand does not have a physical embodiment: it is merely a promise, a covenant with the customer. Some say that “the logo is the brand”... but this is not so. A logo is a meaningless symbol if it does not communicate a brand’s covenant with the consumer. And, whereas communication of a product’s physical attributes is straightforward and fast, communication of brand values is inherently circuitous and slow.

Like the character of an individual, the character of a brand is most difficult to communicate proactively. The individual cannot declare what his character is; the observer must figure it out for himself, an indirect communications process which requires time and absolute consistency. And, contrary to product communication which is best based on one single-minded forceful proposition, brand character, like the character of a person, becomes better defined as it gains in complexity. Lastly, whereas the product manager must gain a superior knowledge of his consumer to be effective, the brand manager’s success is in great...
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