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Salim Bueno

From $8 to $102 per Share: The Incredible Rise of WWE Through Cult Branding

During the early days of wrestling, Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon pioneered using cult branding tactics to build a loyal following. They created larger-than-life characters, intense storylines, and unique marketing strategies that made fans feel like they were part of an exclusive club. This approach helped transform professional wrestling from a regional attraction to a global phenomenon, with the WWE now boasting an incredibly passionate fan base. The McMahons’ innovative branding techniques enabled them to construct a wrestling empire that has experienced phenomenal expansion, as evidenced by the WWE’s stock price surging from $8 in 2002 (when we initially covered the brand in our book The Power of Cult Branding) to an astonishing $100 at present. Such success has put the WWE in a position to be acquired by Endeavor Group Holdings Inc, the owners of UFC, a brand that also leverages cult branding tactics to cultivate its devoted following.

So what is cult branding, and how has it helped the WWE to grow and succeed over the years? Cult branding is a marketing strategy that focuses on building a devoted following of fans who are deeply committed to a particular brand or product. These fans are not just loyal customers; they are evangelists who will go to great lengths to promote and defend the brand they love. They are passionate, engaged, and emotionally invested in the success of the brand.

The WWE has been incredibly successful in building a cult brand over the years. They have cultivated a passionate following of fans deeply committed to the company and its wrestlers. This has been accomplished through a variety of tactics, including creating compelling storylines and characters, engaging fans through social media and other digital platforms, and hosting live events that provide fans with an immersive and unforgettable experience.

One of the key elements of the WWE’s success has been their ability to create larger-than-life characters that fans can connect with on an emotional level. From the iconic Hulk Hogan to Stone Cold Steve Austin to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the WWE has produced a steady stream of wrestlers who have captured the imaginations of fans around the world. These wrestlers have become household names, and their popularity has helped to elevate the profile of the WWE as a whole.

The WWE’s cult branding tactics have also attracted the attention of celebrities and artists outside of the wrestling world. WrestleMania, the WWE’s biggest event of the year, has featured appearances by notable names such as Snoop Dogg, Bad Bunny, and Logan Paul. These celebrity appearances not only bring added star power to the event but also help to expand the reach of the WWE’s brand to new audiences. By attracting mainstream attention and breaking into popular culture, the WWE has solidified its status as a cultural phenomenon and cemented its place in the entertainment industry.

Another important factor in the WWE’s success has been its embrace of social media and other digital platforms. By engaging with fans on social media, WWE has been able to build a strong sense of community around their brand. Fans interact with wrestlers, share their own content, and stay up-to-date on the latest news and developments in the world of professional wrestling.

From the very beginning, WWE has been successful in creating live events that provide fans with an immersive and unforgettable experience. From WrestleMania to SummerSlam to Monday Night Raw, the WWE has created a series of events that are more than just wrestling matches. Combining athleticism, storytelling, and entertainment, these spectacles entice fans to travel the world to witness the event firsthand.

The WWE’s success is a testament to the power of building a cult brand. By building a devoted following of fans who are emotionally invested in the success of the brand, WWE has been able to grow and thrive over the years. With an acquisition by Endeavor Group Holdings Inc on the horizon, the future of the WWE looks bright, and fans around the world are eagerly anticipating what comes next.

With over 20 years of experience as The Cult Branding Company, we’ve honed our strategies and methods to help companies identify their brand’s DNA, gain deep consumer insights, and understand the marketplace ecosystem. We are an independent agency that creates strong and provocative relationships between good companies and their customers.

The Cult Brand Mindset: Focus on Being the Best Version of Your Brand

In today’s highly competitive business environment, brands are constantly looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. One strategy that has proven successful for some brands is to become a “cult brand.” Cult brands are those that have a dedicated and loyal following of customers who are not only repeat buyers but also advocates for the brand.

However, in the pursuit of becoming a cult brand, many companies make the mistake of focusing on trying to be the next “iPhone killer” or “Tesla killer.” They want to take down the top dogs in their industry and become the new leader. While this may seem like a good strategy, it can be a recipe for disaster. Instead of focusing on becoming the next big thing, brands should focus on becoming the best version of themselves.

What does it mean to be the best version of your brand? It means focusing on what makes your brand unique and valuable to your customers. It means identifying your strengths and weaknesses and working to improve them. It means constantly listening to your customers and striving to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.

One example of a brand that has successfully become the best version of itself is Patagonia.

Patagonia is a clothing and outdoor gear brand that has a strong commitment to environmental and social responsibility. Instead of trying to take down other outdoor gear brands, Patagonia focuses on being the best at what they do: creating high-quality products that are sustainable and ethically made. This commitment to their values has helped them build a loyal following of customers who appreciate their brand and what it stands for.

Another example is Zappos. Instead of trying to beat out other retailers like Walmart, Zappos focuses on creating an outstanding customer experience. They offer free shipping and returns, a 365-day return policy, and a customer service team that is available 24/7. This dedication to customer service has helped them build a loyal following of customers who trust and appreciate the brand.

Becoming a cult brand is a goal for many companies, but it’s important to approach it in the right way. Instead of trying to be the next big thing, brands should focus on becoming the best version of themselves. This means identifying their strengths and weaknesses, listening to their customers, and committing to their values. By doing so, brands can build a loyal following of customers who appreciate and advocate for their brand, which is ultimately what makes a brand successful.

With over 20 years of experience as The Cult Branding Company, we’ve honed our strategies and methods to help companies identify their brand’s DNA, gain deep consumer insights, and understand the marketplace ecosystem. We are an independent agency that creates strong and provocative relationships between good companies and their customers.

Top 5 Cult Branding Blogs of 2022

Cult Branding's Top Loyalty and Crisis Blogs of the Year

Below are the 5 most popular blogs of the year.

They cover everything from social media to customer trust to the power of gratitude.

If you’re reading them for the first time, we hope you find new insights. If you’re reading them again, we hope you find a valuable reminder that you can put to action in the new year.

We wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and fantastic New Year.

Is Your Social Media Strategy Really A Social Media Strategy?

The social media landscape changed a lot in 2022. But its core function hasn’t changed. In “Is Your Social Media Strategy Really A Social Media Strategy?” we look at the core function that many businesses miss.

Three Vitally Important Lessons I Learned About Trust While In a Filthy Gas Station Bathroom

A lot is written on customer loyalty. But most of it ignores the precursor to loyalty: trust. Without trust, you can’t get to loyalty.

In “Three Vitally Important Lessons I Learned About Trust While In a Filthy Gas Station Bathroom,” we look at how easy trust is to break and how competitors can use another company’s failure to gain trust to wow their own customers.

Can Customers Trust Your Brand?

Another article on trust. We expect to see a lot more articles written next year on trust (and we plan to write a few ourselves).

In “Can Customers Trust Your Brand?” we look at how brands are outpacing governments in their ability to create trust.

Where Is the Love? Understanding What Went Wrong for Netflix

Even big brands with a lot of customer data can make big mistakes (just look what happened to the ones featured in Good to Great).

In “Where Is the Love? Understanding What Went Wrong for Netflix,” we look at some of the missteps Netflix has made lately and how it could affect customer loyalty.

Four Ways to Make Gratitude a Daily Practice

There’s plenty of research out there showing how adding daily practices of gratitude can improve your well being.

In this “Four Ways to Make Gratitude a Daily Practice,” we describe four ways to easily incorporate gratitude into your daily life.

Four Ways to Make Gratitude a Daily Practice

When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.                    —PAUL COELHO

When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.Paulo Coelho1

Life truly is a gift, regardless of how great or troublesome life and business may appear. Below are four tips to improve your attitude about gratitude and make it a daily practice.

1. Schedule Time to Give Thanks

Incorporate more gratitude into your daily life. Schedule at least a few minutes to feel grateful. Make it a daily appointment with yourself. When the alarm sounds, think of three things you can be thankful for and write them down in your journal. These moments of gratitude will shift your focus from feeling stressed to feeling uplifted.

Another approach is to start and end the day with this gratitude exercise. Being thankful first thing in the morning is optimal because it starts your day with positive energy and primes you for the rest of your day. Reserving time before bed can help put your mind at ease and be a catalyst for a good night’s rest.

2. Write Thank You Notes

Saying thank you is an excellent way to show your appreciation for all the small things people do for you. But the sentiment can lose power when spoken often. Giving a speech on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetary, less than two weeks before his death, President John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Express gratitude through writing. At the end of your day, write a note, send an email, or text the words “thank you” to a colleague whom you are grateful for. Writing will allow you to reflect on why you are genuinely thankful. The letter will also serve the recipient as a token of your appreciation.

3. Stay Present

In The Artist is Present, Marina Abramovic writes, “We always project into the future or reflect in the past, but we are so little in the present.” We are all accomplished multi-taskers, always analyzing past decisions and projecting future consequences.

Unfortunately, divided attention makes it hard to feel genuine gratitude. Take time to be present. Appreciate the person you’re with instead of the phone in front of you, the flowers outside the window, and even a hot cup of coffee. Being in the now is not easy, but tools like meditation can help you stay present, allowing you to focus more on gratitude.

4. Celebrate Thanksgiving Every Day

Every day is a holiday, and every meal is a feast. Think of your lunch break as a giving-thanks break. Sit down for lunch with your colleagues and treat it as Thanksgiving. Share what you are grateful for in your personal life. Take turns talking about what you appreciate about each other.
Offer specific examples, such as, “I appreciate all the hard work you’ve done to help me with my report, despite your demanding schedule.”

Not only is sharing a meal great for establishing a thriving corporate culture, but it also will make colleagues feel more connected.

Onward

What you focus on grows. When you focus on the many gifts you already have, you create more of these gifts. Maintain these practices every week, and you will cultivate a grateful attitude year-round.

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Top 5 Cult Branding Blogs of 2021

Cult Branding's Top Loyalty and Crisis Blogs of the Year

Taking into consideration your opens, shares, and clicks, below are our five most popular blogs of 2021.

We thank you for your continued readership. We wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and fantastic New Year.

BJ, Salim, and Aaron

Make Business Matter

In August, we launched our podcast, Make Business Matter with two episodes:” What is the Purpose of Busines?” and “What is Branding?”

We will return with more episodes in 2022, including some episodes featuring guests that we’re fans of.

The Power of Thank You

In a year that refocused many people and organizations on what is meaningful, it’s not surprising that our post “The Power of Thank You” was one of the most popular of the year. Sometimes simple gestures can have meaning that far outweighs the effort.

Seven Easy Ways to Make Customers You Meet Feel Important

Customers are increasingly looking for businesses that value them and their business. In “Seven Easy Ways to Make Customers You Meet Feel Important,” we reveal seven ways anyone in an organization can make customers they encounter feel valued.

How to Start a Cult … Brand

If you want to do something well, it helps to study the best. In “How to Start a Cult … Brand,” we discuss 5 things Cult Brands do to create high levels of loyalty that can be applied to any business (even if you don’t want to go full-on Cult Brand).

How to Put Archetypes to Work in Your Business

Archetypes are like software programs that come preinstalled on your computer (mind). You may not know they exist, but they are always either running in the background or ready to run after a single click.

In this blog, we show how you can mimic great brands and use archetypes to create and keep customers.

3 Questions Great Leaders Ask

When you care about your staff and their contributions, they will reward you with a genuine effort in making the company vision a reality.

Great leaders know that everyone wants to be a part of creating the vision. Keep your team involved and motivated by asking these three questions.

1. “How are things going?”

[Managers] do not talk to their subordinates about their problems, but they know how to make the subordinates talk about theirs.Peter Drucker1

Drucker’s quote is a great reminder that a leader’s role is to help their staff succeed.

You don’t have to wait for the annual review to check in with your team. Asking “How are things going?” is an excellent way to keep staff engaged and working together. Inquiring about their task at hand, their progress on a project, or about their career path. Frequent in-the-moment feedback will help everyone know their contributions are critical to achieving the vision.

2. “What do you think?”

Your job, as a manager, is to get better outcomes from a group of people working togetherJulie Zhuo2

Help your team dig deeper by asking them what they think. Being a leader is not about having all the right answers. Leadership is about facilitating others to find a solution.

Try to reach out to all your staff, not just outspoken team members. Everyone has an idea of how to achieve the vision. Listen and share those ideas with all your team members. You will be surprised how team members can inspire each other.

3. “How can I help you?”

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”Martin Luther King, Jr.3

King’s famous quote is correct in every aspect of life. Don’t wait for issues to come to you. Ask those around you how you can lend a hand. Then, follow through with action: make sure tasks are done, work side-by-side with your staff, and become their biggest cheerleader—especially when big projects are due.

When you care about your staff and their contributions, they will reward you with a genuine effort in making the company vision a reality.

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Top 5 Cult Branding Blogs of 2020

Cult Branding's Top Loyalty and Crisis Blogs of the Year

In a year that’s been filled with a lot of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, we’re especially thankful for your continued readership during this challenging year.

Taking into consideration your opens, shares, and clicks, below are our five most popular blogs of 2020.

We wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and fantastic New Year.

BJ, Salim, and Aaron

5 Strategies for Leading During a Crisis (or any change)

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw most crisis articles focus on the importance of resilience. But, that’s only one piece of what’s required to overcome the challenges that come with a crisis.

“5 Strategies for Leading During a Crisis (or any change)” combines the latest in both research and practical experience in managing a crisis. It is a comprehensive guide to understanding the dynamics of a crisis and what you can do to pivot with purpose and overcome the challenging conditions that come with a crisis.

What to Do When You’re Worn Out

Something we consistently heard from both readers and clients was how difficult it was to not feel burnt out this year.

This blog presents four effective strategies for combating burnout.

How to Build Customer Loyalty in The Age of Skeptics

In January, we published this blog on how to turn increasingly skeptical consumers into loyal customers by building trusting relationships. Little did we know how relevant it would be for this year.

The pandemic has highlighted to more businesses how critical it is to maintain a loyal customer base as they have been the difference between success and closure for many businesses.

Beyond Loyalty Programs: 5 Ways to Create Loyal Customers

Loyalty programs are par for the course in many businesses today. Yet, most of them look the same.

This blog contains 5 ways businesses can create loyalty by doing what their customers really value in a way that is unique to the business.

How to Get Customers to Choose You Instead of Your Competitors

Businesses always battle for customers from their competitors. But, this year the value of those individual purchases to the businesses has increased.

In this blog, we explore how focusing on customer needs can make you an unstoppable force against your competition.

Leaders Are Made, Not Born

To be an effective leader, you have to be a really good listener. And, not to what’s being said, but to what’s not being said. You have to be really observant. That was a big transition for me: I went from being a scorer and a floor general to being a leader. And, that meant putting others first. That means not worrying about: Are you in rhythm? Are you playing well in this game? Are you ready to go? [It means going] to being: Are they ready? What can I do to help them be ready? That’s the big transition to make. You’ve gotta observe them, because they all have things they want to accomplish as individuals. And, as. Leader you’re like, “Okay, what are those things?” And, how can I help them accomplish that within the system, the structure that we are trying to do collectively.  —Kobe Bryant

The passing of Kobe Bryant this week had us reflecting on the man he was and the time we spent working with him. When we worked with Kobe, he was undergoing the transition from being number 8 to number 24. This transition was much more than just a number change for him; it had personal significance. 24 meant dedicating himself every hour of the day to being a better person that others could look up to; it meant going from focusing just on himself and his stardom to focusing on being a leader and helping his teammates achieve their goals. Kobe realized that leadership is a choice and that it takes dedication, practice, awareness, constant learning, and skill. Leaders are made, not born. And, great leaders never stop trying to be better not just for themselves, but for those they have the honor of leading. Rest in peace Kobe.

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Top 5 Cult Branding Blogs of 2019

Happy New Year

As the year comes to a close, we’d like to thank all of you for continuing to support our blog with your readership.

We’d especially like to thank our friends that contributed blogs in the past year: Tyler Williams, Lead Link of Brand Aura at Zappos, wrote about what it takes to build a great brand without engaging in practices that would disappoint your mom; John Bunch, Lead Organizational Designer at Zappos, wrote about the journey to Zappos’ 20th birthday this year and what the future looks like for the company; and Greg Breeding, President of Journey Group, wrote about what it took to create the Love Stamp for the United States Postal Service.

Taking into consideration opens, shares, and clicks, below are our five most popular blogs of 2019.

We wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and fantastic New Year.

BJ, Salim, and Aaron

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Trust in the Workplace

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Taking a sociological perspective, Barbara Misztal explains in her book Trust in Modern Societies that trust has three social implications: 1) it makes social life more predictable; 2) it creates a sense of community; and, 3) it allows people to work together. Without trust, social interactions are unpredictable, community building is thwarted, and people are unable to collaborate effectively.

Businesses aggressively strive to establish trust with their customers but frequently neglect the need to cultivate trust in their workplaces. In their myopia, they create hostile work environments with a ‘me versus you’ mentality, where employees feel the constant need to watch their backs. In this space, loyalty, creativity, and innovation are sure to die. Continue Reading