Brand Worship – What’s Your Cause? Purpose? Spirit?

How to Build a Powerful Brand

Douglas Atkin - The Culting of BrandsBrands provide meaning for people because they stand for something – they represent a promise or an ideal. But how do you create a powerful brand? It can all start with your cause.

What do you want to have happen? If you’re not out to cause anything then you might as well go back to bed. Your cause is the sharp end of your branding arrow. It’s at odds with the current world. It needs to be to attract a band of worshippers. 

How to attract a community around your brand by defining your cause, purpose, spirit and stand in the world.

This slideshow is from the Book Rapper issue Brand Worship and is derived from the book by Douglas Atkin: The Culting of Brands.

Purpose: What’s your reason for existing?

The purpose of your business is not about making money. We need money like we need to breathe, but breathing is not the purpose of our lives. Your purpose hits a deeper nerve.

  • What’s the problem you are solving?
  • What’s the concern you are addressing?
  • And what are you aspiring to?
  • If you stopped doing what you are doing right now, would anyone notice? Would you be missed?

Clue: Human being are social animals. How are you helping people live better lives?

Action: Define your purpose. What’s the real reason you’re in business? Why did you really get out of bed this morning? Really, do you expect me to believe that?

Spirit: What’s your point of difference? 

Cars stopped being about transport long ago. Today we buy them for comfort, safety, showing off and because we can. 

We live in a Spiritual Economy. Not some airy-fairy, dressed in purple world. The spiritual is‘ issues bigger than daily living’. They’re not physical; they’re symbolic. And they’re not rational; they’re emotional. 

The good news is demand for the spiritual is constant. We need meaning and belonging today. And, we’ll need them again tomorrow. 

Your point of difference doesn’t live in your product features and benefits. Chunk up. It’s what your brand stands for. It’s what it represents. We consume and produce beliefs, meaning, worldviews, aspirations, possibilities and dreams. 

Revlon started selling dreams in a jar decades ago. The Church has been selling salvation for centuries. Barack Obama is selling us ‘hope’. 

Action: Define your point of difference in spiritual, emotional and symbolic ways. 

Stand: What’s your point of view? 

Which eggs do you buy? Free range? Cage? Organic? None – I’m a Vegan? It’s an everyday loaded question. We buy with our points of view. Eggs are produced in multiple ways because not all eggs are created equal. Consumers don’t want it that way. And neither do you! Sameness is the death of brands. 

To create a cult-like following requires some degree of edge or alienation. Your brand must stand for something. It must represent a distinct alternative to the status quo. 

The good news is not everyone will like you and your opinion. That’s the point of branding: the sharper your edge the better. Superman stood for ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way’. His stand was to help people in need. 

Action: What’s your stand and what are you going to do about it? Define your stand AND the actions that would follow. What sort of eggs are you providing? 


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