5 Lessons from Cult Brands

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Reaching to become a cult brand is like trying to create the next viral video on YouTube – unpredictable at best. A cult brand is defined by the undeniable commitment their customers have to the products, culture and philosophy of the company. Though cult brands are distinct from one another, each one has dared to be bold in their own right.

Over the years, leaders of cult brands have been asked time and time again how to achieve success. These are some of the lessons they described.

Stand out in the crowd.

“People want bright colors.”

Mark Wolverton, CEO of LUSH Cosmetics


If you haven’t seen a LUSH cosmetics store, the process of attraction and purchase becomes a natural extension of yourself when interacting with their products. Everything in the store is decked out in white, black, chrome and wood to create the most neutral background for their stunningly bright and fragrant products.

That way, when you pick up a rich purple and glittering gold Phoenix Rising bath bomb and bring it to your nose, the apple and cinnamon melt away the neutral store to give you a personalized experience that you simply must take home.

Create a sense of “why.”

“When you incorporate giving in your business model, your customers become your best marketers.”

Blake Mycoskie, CEO and founder of TOMS


Choosing to focus on why your business exists and what it believes gives its customers purpose in choosing your products and services over others. That deep connection of working toward a common goal together creates a bond that won’t die easily in their hearts. Gain the right customers for your business and build a lasting relationship all in one step.

Create an experience.

“A better everyday life means getting away from status and conventions – being freer and
more at ease as human beings.”

Ingvar Kamprad, Founder and CEO of IKEA


IKEA works hard to create an experience for shoppers as they put full rooms together and show customers how to mix and pair their products. Escaping the conventions of a standard store, we all end up wishing for a home like theirs. (And we might end up with a home exactly like theirs if we can’t find our way out!) Put your customers in the world your business thinks they deserve, and they will eat it up.

Create a persona.

“Although he lives well, this fictitious man has the accouterments of wealth and an elegance of relationships.”

Jonathan Goldsmith, actor for Dos Equis’ The Most Interesting Man in the World.


Dos Equis created The Most Interesting Man in the World after discovering from a survey that most drinkers are chiefly concerned with having something interesting and noteworthy to say when out with friends.

The Most Interesting Man in the World has a varied list of odd talents: He bowls overhand. He is both left- and right-handed. In museums, he is allowed to touch the art. Though not impossible, many of these are improbable and therefore exactly what drinkers want to be. His relatable persona has even inspired a popular meme across the internet:


Pick a niche market.

“Frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for wearing our pants.”

Chip Wilson, former CEO of Lululemon


Were his words offensive to women across the nation? Yes. Did he deserve to be forced into early retirement after calling a size 8 fat? Probably. Did his branding expertise start a new trend worn by women every single day and change the face of active wear forever? Yes. After a notable dip in sales during last year’s holiday season, Lululemon is back on top and selling more yoga pants than ever.

The exclusivity factor in their clothes has created avid wearers for those who fit the company’s profile. And those who don’t? They are just as comfortable in knock-offs made by brands from Calvin Klein to Target. (Exactly where Lululemon wants them.)

What each of these lessons can be boiled down to is creating focus for your business. If you try to reach everyone, it’s likely your messages aren’t moving for anyone. Choose a way to best align your business with a particular goal and stick to it.

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