In the past people were loyal to brands simply because of name brand recognition, status or taste. People today pick brands because of the experiences they offer and the connections to other likeminded people that they can provide. This has given birth to an entirely different relationship between people and the products they buy and support, which looks and feels more like a faithful following than brand advocacy. Today, when people say they would rather fight than switch, they really mean it.
In this new “culting” environment, people connect with brands and create dialogues not only with them but also through them. Creatively destructed brands, who are agile and able to respond to this impulse, are consciously employing the same devices used by traditional cult leaders and faith based organizations to create and grow living and breathing cults that invite us in to live, love, play, believe, evangelize, and worship in their House of We.
Brands, just like cults, look to create a tight knit community of like-minded believers. They ignite passion, encourage belief in a particular ideology, seed rivalry and inspire loyalty. They provide strong and charismatic leadership, provide the opportunity for total immersion in the cult experience, and place an emphasis on the power of we rather than me. The influence of culting has the potential to have a positive and healing effect on commerce and culture, because it is transforming brands from merchants of goods, into merchants of good doing and inspiring a re-envisioned social activism, with people banding together behind a common ideal, or vision of justice, and taking it to the streets in a whole new and passionate way.