Want to be a Cult Brand? Stop Seeking Approval – 4 Essential Qualities of Cult Fashion Brands
Have you observed how certain brands become a culture, a lifestyle of sorts? They don’t seem to be following any rules, be it marketing or networking. They make it all seem effortless. No other brand can really replicate their success, by just following in their footsteps. Fanaticism is not a new concept, there have been certain people or companies that have the power to unite followers to act in a certain way for centuries.
New York brand Supreme or Palace in London are two such brands that are born from a subculture, that is impossible to manufacture. There is nothing generic about these brands, it is not what they do it is how they do that sets them apart. There are a hundred other fashion labels selling the items that Supreme and Palace sell, but they don’t seem to have ques of customers outside their stores at 3 in the morning.
- Cult brands don’t seek approval: They couldn’t care less about a customers approval, on the contrary, the customer wants the brand’s approval. They have a rebel like aloof and blase attitude. You can see this attitude reflected in the statement by Lev Tanju, founder of Palace“I sit in front of the TV with a takeaway and type on my iPhone absolute nonsense in bullet points and people find it funny”.
- They are authentic to what they represent: Cult brands are often attached to a sport, a music trend. A common interest, a passion of some kind that binds their fans together. This immense passion gives rise to a community of loyal fans, nowadays digital communities are the most common benchmark to analyze the success of a brand. A cult brand thus becomes a lifestyle, a religion for its customers, knit together by the devotion of fans.
- The brick and mortar stores add to the charm of the brand: In a world where fast fashion is prevalent, most brands aim to make the purchase process as simple as possible. A customer can shop directly by clicking on links found while browsing a social media platforms. However, brands like Supreme and Palace are doing the stark opposite of creating convenience. The customers that line up outside their stores in the middle of the night are experiencing something that a click on an online link just won’t provide. They are experiencing thrill, anticipation and an adventure of shopping with fellow fanatics and not giving up until they buy what they came for.
- Cult brands are unapologetic: Let us consider the following response to a complaint made by a customer on the Instagram page of Palace “yall suck, I got my tee shirt and there were holes in it,” Palace’s team responded to the complaint with the following statement “put your arms through them.”.
This style of unpolitic statement defies all the codes of conduct that a brand is usually suggested to follow if they want to keep a customer. The product description by Palace is again against all norms, –“If you click and buy this shit, it can be quite therapeutic, you should try it if you don’t feel any better at least there is the bonus of you sorting your trife current garment situation.”
Thus as a fashion brand, it might not be a good idea to follow cult brands blindly, they wouldn’t be cult brands if they had followed someone. What you could do is understand how they embed their core beliefs into their attitude towards selling almost anything they set out to sell.
Deepika is ILFR’s Marketing Expert and oversees various marketing functions, including Brand Positioning, Social Media, Influencer Marketing, and Content Marketing.