The Culting of Brands :
How businesses and corporations maximize their revenue by turning consumers into ”True Believers”
If a product is not a brand, it is just a commodity. Brand equity derives its value by generating profit through increased sales driven by branding, and crucially the willingness of consumers to pay a premium.
Knowledge of a ‘secret’ provides us with a vicarious kind of ‘aura’: When someone is said to have an ‘aura’, what is meant is that they are in some way mysterious and special. The same can be made true for brands. This is the contemporary ”brand-community” business, arguably analogous to the role played by cults and churches in previous ages – and similarly fostering (expensive) illusions.
Nike encourages its followers to “just do it”, thus demonising the notion of “not doing it” for millions of fitness-conscious consumers. Harley-Davidson cultivates the ”rebel” in its core catchment, middle-aged males trapped by the constraints of comfortable suburbia (‘the claustrophobia of the everyday’). Steve Jobs defined IBM as bullying, monolithic, bureaucratic, soul sucking, and ”a corporation”. Therefore by contrast, Apple was to be perceived as being about freedom, about creativity, and about ”passion.” Successful branding influences consumers with jargon-loaded language and the notion that the brand’s ideology is superior to all others. These qualities of successful brands all have their equivalents in the social history of cults.
Famous brands like Apple and Nike become part of the cultural lexicon, the web of symbols that people use to define themselves in an otherwise incomprehensible world.
Even our imagery is thus being privatised.
The bottom line : ”The greater your command of brand loyalty, the less you must worry about price sensitivity and competitive promotions, and the less you must pay for marketing” – Jim Mullen, founder, Mullen Advertising
How brands like Apple and Harley Davidson use cult tactics to make billions