The Making of a Cult Classic

By Mash Bonigala

Some companies seem to make all the right business decisions and languish, while others grow at an exponential rate for no apparent reason. We can see examples of this all around us, yet few people can explain it. However, in many cases at least, the answer lies in the appeal of the brand itself, rather than in the products, the service or any other aspect of the business.

There are many good example of this, cult brands that are loved more for their image than any other aspect of their business. For a long time Apple fans fell under this category, as they would buy Apple products despite any inconvenience or extra cost. From Google to Ben & Jerry’s, there are many companies that are cult classics with an audience of fans that buy them solely for their brand appeal.

How can you create your own cult classic? While there is no magic formula for this, all brands with massive cult appeal have a few things in common. First, they are completely unique and easy to pick out from their competition. Women all over the world recognize the bright red roles of a certain shoe maker, while Pepsi lovers can pick out a fake in any blind taste test. The logos must be similarly unique, so people have an image to rally around and to show off if they can acquire it.

Second, there must be status inherent in using them. This may be due to the rarity of the product—consider the craze over Beanie Babies back when they included mainly limited editions with small runs. It may also be due to expense, as we seen with iconic brands such as Perrier and Louis Vuitton. One of the important aspects of cult classic brands is that having them gives you a sense of superiority over people who don’t have it as well as a sense of solidarity with those who do.

Third, marketing is important to the making of a cult classic. While ‘normal’ avenues of marketing can help, it is the guerilla marketing and various word of mouth methods that seem to be the most effective. If your brand has a logo design that appeals to your target market and follows all of the above rules, your next movement should be to get people talking. This can be done by offering samples (logo samples) to influential people as well as by digital methods such as social media.

A last part of creating a cult classic is the not-so-easy part. Most cult classic come onto the market as the first wave in a trend. Often, the cult classic is even the originator of a trend. You must determine what trends are ripe for revival or find a product that people currently need (even if they don’t know it yet). In order to be a cult classic, you must be differentiated from the competition. This is a simple task if your product is the first of its kind.

Once you have the above characteristics, your only task is to find employees and investors who believe in it and to go through the logistics of opening a business. Is your idea the next great cult classic brand? The only way to find out is to create a brand and begin selling it.