Customer Loyalty Research: How Cult Brands Build Brand Passion

Great brands are usually great customer cult builders.  These savvy companies create a tribe of brand evangelists who adopt the company brand as a badge of personal identity.

In this three-minute emotional marketing lesson video, customer loyalty researcher Graeme Newell shows how some of the most powerful brands dominate their category by tapping the passion of the tribe. See how these big brands achieved dominance by handing their brand over to their fans.

Transcription text of the 3-Minute Emotional Marketing Lesson Video “Customer Loyalty Research: How Cult Brands Build Brand Passion” by Graeme Newell, emotional marketing researcher, customer loyalty researcher, and consultant at 602 Communications

Hi I’m Graeme Newell.  Powerhouse brands like Google, McDonalds and Coke have incredibly loyal fans, but they have yet to achieve the pinnacle of brand dominance…the cult brand.

“All the way down, and that’s another one! It’s Sherrah Abiobi”

Newcastle football doesn’t spend a lot of time marketing their product, instead their primary marketing focus is recruiting brand advocates who will do all the marketing for them.

“Forty thousand jumpin’ around like total lunatics. Jumpin into people you don’t know, huggin’ people who you don’t know. It’s just…mayhem. The most important thing to me all year, is renewin’ me season ticket. It’s all about Newcastle and football, that’s, that’s about it. I think me heart’s black and white. I had, I couldn’t put it any other way. When you’re in that stadium and there’s fifty two thousand people there, and you feelin’ so (explicative deleted)ing good, and that ball hits the back of the net. (cheering) It’s like winnin’ the lottery.”

Brand researchers tested just how intense this loyalty can be.

“Each was given two voodoo dolls. One representing his partner, and the other representing his favorite player. The subjects had to make a choice. Either stick pins into the player, and take him out for the next game, or into his partner, and put her in bed for a week. Ahhhhh, I gotta do it then. Best player of the season lad. (Laughing)”

Lego is another cult brand.  Community building is the marketing priority for cult brands.

“The club puts down tables and the train track and there all the members bring in the various buildings and creations that they’ve invented to populate the space.”

They create a grassroots infrastructure where brand advocates can connect and recruit new loyalists.

“Two hundred and fifty members, about half of them are kids, and about half of them still think they are.”

SAP, the enterprise accounting software giant, is a cult brand for businesses. Their users geek out at huge conferences run completely by members and not SAP.

Scion has an entire underground of young owners who flock together and inspire each other

“I love to trick out my Scion X-8. We’re all trying to something to make it, wonderful. We have racing seats, carbon-fiber hood, and the boost-controller and the turbo-timer. ”

But one of my favorite cult brands (rumbling) is Harley.  They built HOG, the Harley Owner’s Group.

“HOG Dubai is a, is a chapter of um, of a world-wide motorcycling group. It’s the largest motorcycling group that exists on this planet.”

More than a million members who come together to play dress-up and bask in a shared love of the brand. But Harley takes it one step further, they don’t just provide a way for members to connect, they provide an attitude for living.

“We believe that the world is going soft, but we’re not going along with it. We believe in motorcycle rallies that last a week. We believe in roadside attractions, gas station hotdogs, and finding out what’s over the next hill.”

The product is almost an afterthought.  This cult brand is solidly built around how this community wants to feel about itself. It’s all about respect, not just motorcycles. Brands like Harley build their cult following the old-fashioned way, face-to-face.  But now social media offers brands an even more powerful way to empower brand evangelists.

So take a lesson from the cult branders. Take the focus off yourself and build the glory of your biggest fans.  The most powerful way to build a brand is to get other people to do it for you.  I’m Graeme Newell and that’s emotional marketing.

There’s lots more free training videos, white papers, and great emotional marketing examples on our website. Visit us at

Customer Loyalty Research: How Cult Brands Build Brand Passion

The best brands in the world aren’t the ones with the snappiest slogans or the flashiest commercials, but the brands that achieve total dominance. These “cult brands” command brand passion from their customers unlike anyone else.

Building Brand Passion

While Coke, Google, and McDonalds have incredibly loyal fans, you don’t often see someone etching the logos into their very skin in the form of tattoos or living their lives centered on the brand. This is, however, a claim that brand masters Harley Davidson and Newcastle Football can boast. Customer loyalty research shows that the best brands are the ones that command the most brand passion.

So how does one build brand passion? Brand passion isn’t actually something that a company itself builds. Instead, brand passion is built by empowering brand evangelists. Customer loyalty research shows that having marketing start with your most fanatical customers as opposed to your marketing department is what generates the most brand passion.

So what are brands like Harley Davidson and Newcastle Football doing to build brand passion when much larger brands like Google and Coke are lagging behind? They are empowering their customers in a way that other companies simply are not.

All companies strive to make the very best product they can, and as a result of these efforts customers will naturally come to feel very passionate about their favorites. This is where customer loyalty research shows that the companies that are building brand passion differ from the ones that are not building brand passion. The ones that are building brand passion hone in on these “brand evangelists,” or the men and women who absolutely love their product, and give them the tools they need to spread the message. On the other hand, companies who are not building brand passion ignore these customers and continue to push their marketing from the top-down, not the bottom-up as it should be.

What customer loyalty research says about brand passion

Customer loyalty research is research designed to discover what really fires customers up about a brand. Newcastle Football has done extensive customer loyalty research and has confirmed that empowering it’s most devoted fans to spread the word about their product is paying off amazingly well.

Customer loyalty research is a thorough, painstakingly detailed analysis on exactly what generates customer loyalty and how effective this sentiment. In this video, we take a close look at exactly how the Newcastle Football Club has managed to make it’s brand of men kicking a ball around a field into a cause, a way of life even, that men and women alike are absolutely rabid about.

So if your product is worth getting worked up about, find those customers that love your brand and give them the keys to the mansion. They will reward you with authentic and effective marketing that money can’t buy.


•    Customer loyalty research has proven that bottom-up marketing works.
•    Brand passion is generated by your most fanatical customers, so get out there and empower them!

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