Consumers latch onto brands that encourage freedom of expression and enable them to celebrate their individuality. Here’s my rationale: Brands that inspire tribal formations are adopted into consumers’ lifestyles. But what happens when those brands rest on their laurels a little too long by failing to remain innovative, or when new brands come along that pull on consumer heartstrings in a more relevant manner? Will consumers who are oriented to brands in a cult-like manner be likely to move to other brands that they find fresh and compelling—even when those brands are in different categories? Interestingly, research has corroborated this.
For brands, staking out a position and standing for something is as important now as it ever was. Resisting the temptation to try to be all things to all people is crucial. Challenging the status quo is a big plus—and doing it in a unique, memorable manner is even better. Creating a brand persona is humanizing and encourages the formation of relationships. How enduring those relationships become depends upon whether the brand evolves with its adherents. Here’s where I think brands can take their marketing up a notch.