Key Point: Category leading organizations often attract a huge following, achieve superb financial results, and become “cult” brands based on their ability to deliver a deeply engaging customer experience. They stand for a purpose that connects a community of active ambassadors and fierce loyalists. I was at a conference where the CEO of car2go described what happened during Winter Storm Jonas, which hammered the eastern seaboard. In Washington D.C., available car2go vehicles were dwarfed in their parking stalls by overwhelming snow banks, making it impossible for customers to access the cars. Who came to the rescue? Customers of car2go believe so much in what the company stands for, they crowd sourced and shoveled out the cars: The company offered 60 minutes of drive time to whoever was willing to shovel one out.
This is a metaphor for many of the new (or renewed), emerging, and perhaps even disruptive brands like Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Starbucks, Lululemon, Converse, REI, etc. These brands have such loyal customers, they rarely advertise. They do, however, find a way to make very emotional connections with their customers. And their followers establish a community that embraces the purpose of the cult brand they endorse, share, and rally around.
I think this evolution to seeking and providing extraordinary customer experience applies to each of us in the workplace. Our value and advancement is no longer primarily about our technical skills or even results. Stakeholders want us to make a personal, emotional connection and provide a memorable experience. They will remember us more for how we made them feel than what outcome was achieved. Obviously, getting personal results is important. However, establishing a brand, with ideally a “cult following” is well beyond. When you are that valued of an employee, people will fight for your participation and contribution, because they actually connect emotionally. They want the “brand experience.” They will actually become cult followers… Your ambassadors… Your loyal community.
- Consider what you might do to evolve from a good employee to a contributor with a “cult” following. How would that happen? What service/relationship experience would distinguish you? Make you a “stand out?” Why would people working with you rave about you and follow you?
- How do you make people feel when they interact with you? Is it memorable? Remarkable? Why? Why not? When the stormy world “snows you in,” will others come to “shovel you out” because they want to and admire who you are?
Cult brand in the Triangle
One Millennial View: Peyton Manning mentions “Budweiser” in place of the noun “beer” after winning Super Bowl 50. Lululemon’s popularity has bloggers buzzing about a clothing style called “Athleisure” to describe the trendy workout gear you see people running errands in. “Like” it or not, everyone’s paying a lot of attention to you, your brand, and formulating opinions because of it on social media. What else is there to do while standing in line, buying Bud, wearing our “athleisure” gear in 2016?
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis