Would I recommend the The Culting of Brands?
Absolutely. I’ve read this book thrice already. And each time it brings a new layer of understanding of why certain communities work (and why most others don’t). The word ‘cult’ brings up the worst sort of connotations. It brings up a feeling of control, of mindless, robotic behaviour, of mass madness. And yet the concept of a cult is nowhere as maniacal.
In fact the concept of the word ‘cult’ changes almost instantly when you think of the brand “Apple Computers”. Suddenly the word swings from the bizarre to the not-so-bizarre. The fact is that cults are part of social evolution for thousands of years, and Christianity, the Pilgrims etc., were all cults. The underlying factor of the book is that cults tend to be progressive. Sects on the other hand tend to be regressive.
And once that definition comes to the fore, we see that cults have these underlying factors of great devotion, distinct ideology, defined/committed community and a devotion that leads to members becoming voluntary advocates. Kinda like me and my Mac (Heck, didn’t even know I was in a cult).
I’d rate it as a five-sticky book. The book is extremely well written and detailed. There are lots of examples (some of which are now dated) E.g. How Jet Blue created a cult out of nothing at all, simply by NOT being an airline, but being something else altogether. You can delve deep into the heart of the Hare Krishna movement, how Saturn cars were sold, or even how Harley Davidson created a cult in complete contrast to say BMW bikes.
This book becomes hard to put down once you get started, because it gets under your skin. Doug Atkins (the author) goes from the Paradox of cults, and shows you how cults (for all their sameness) succeed because the cult members believe they’re different. He also delves deeply into how cults tend to sell the concept of the “people” long before the “ideology”. That interaction between the members is critical and more important than shoving an idea down someone’s throat.
Incredibly, the smart cults attract members who are socially very successful (makes sense, doesn’t it?) and often very attractive. People who have connections to friends, family, and good at making connections. And I must stop raving here, because otherwise I’ll never stop. So yes, I’d rate this book very highly. And I’ll be reading it several times over the years to come.
It’s a five-sticky on application. The concepts are easy to apply. Really easy. They’re a lot of concepts, but if you are patient (and cults are patient) then you can indeed put all of the concepts in place over the years and the decades to come.
The ideas contained in this book are not only quite sound and well-researched, but they’re very do-able. That’s often unusual for a book with such a broad (or deep) concept.
The book is very readable. The text flows easily, and the stories and case studies keep you enthralled. It’s hard to put down (didn’t I say that before?) The layout is also very clean, and this makes a big difference in the overall presentation of the book’s ideas.
Click on the thumbnail to see bigger picture
My Biggest Insight
I’d say it changed my concept of a cult. The ideas that are in this book find a place in our membership site at 5000bc. In the past, I’d have hesitated to call 5000bc a cult and used something more like “oh it’s a membership”, but I see that there’s a massive diffrence between just being a member and being part of a cult. I see myself in the Apple cult. And the Wacom cult. And the InDesign cult. And the great coffee cult. It definitely changes the perspective.
Some of the powerful concepts in this book (and how you start applying them today): (Note: The links go to similar-kinda Psychotactics articles.I’ll add more links as I write more articles.)
1) Is there a difference between brands and cults?
2) How people search for meaning, security, order and identity.
3) How it creates a paradox: Devotion of one=rejection of another.
4) People join to find themselves, and not to conform. They feel safe.
5) Mary Kay, Apple, Harley Davidson are all ongoing cults without the overall need to be supervised.
6) All cults assume they’re different.
7) The importance of language, iconography, appearances.
The focus on the person.
9) Choosing the “right” members.
10) The critical importance of interaction at all times.
Where To Get This Book (Nope, this ain’t an affiliate link)
At Amazon.com : ‘The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin’
# Hardcover: 256 pages
# Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (June 3, 2004)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1591840279
# ISBN-13: 978-1591840275
# Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
Another website you’ll find useful to understand customer psychology: