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Finally finished this book by Douglas Atkin. It only took me ages to reach the end, not because it was a bad book, but because I’m not particularly disciplined when it comes to reading.

It was quite stimulating to see how Douglas described the correlation between cults and how certain brands can be categorized as cults. It’s a very well written (i’ll be honest, I had to use the dictionary a few times) in depth look at the main players and their ability to create a cult following with almost no effort.
He peers into the world of BMW, Saturn, Apple, Mary Kay, and JetBlue and the phenomenon which either revived the brand or made them one of the most sought out name in their industry.

I never really understood how consumers could buy into the idea of a brand so intensely to the point it being their way of life or as Douglas put it, their religion. One example that stood out was the Apple advocate that actually stood outside local computer stores trying to “convert” PC buyers and persuading the public that Apple is a way of life and was good for their soul. The fact that people like this exist just means that brand strategists are doing something right.

This brand war to gain undying consumers is a sensitive battle field. There has to be a delicate balance to efficiently optimize a following. The brand has to be unique, but not opposing. It has to bring tension, but not criticism. It has to focus on a core idea and be unwavering. The product should stand for a lifestyle or evoke an emotion (i.e. Apple for individualism, Harley Davidson for a rebellious alter ego, etc..). If a brand is not careful, they will be easily dragged down. Many well known brands that we thought would be around for ages have become text book samples of what not to do, because of a slip they ignored.

So I’ll end with Douglas’ last words of advice:
“If you are resolved to start a cult brand, then here is a reminder of the most important principles of cult formation. Make your brand different enough, but the same enough. In the world of cult brands, people buy people, not things or ideas alone… Invest at least as much into the cult as your members do in terms of emotional and financial commitment, energy, and creativity. Never lie. Rethink your position from being a commander-controller to being a community nurturer- a more humble role.” (Douglas Atkin)


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