Browsing Tag

Salim Bueno

Speak to Those Who Listen

In today’s saturated marketplace companies are wearing thin in the pursuit of new customers. They create messages that speak to themselves, enter markets where they don’t belong, and speak to people who don’t care to listen. They target hypothetical demographics instead of targeting Brand Lovers.

By speaking to their Brand Lovers, Cult Brands strengthen their relationship with their best customers and constantly increase provability. After decades of speaking to her best customers Oprah has become one of the most powerful brands today.

With a TV show viewed by over 40 million people weekly, a magazine with 2.7 million copies circulation, a book club with millions of members, and a website that harnesses all these things together, Oprah utilizes every channel to connect with the people who love the Oprah brand the most.

The collective success of all these mediums comes from giving the customer what they want: spirit, health, style, relationship, home, food, money, and the world. Oprah covers these topics on her television show,, O magazine, and Oprah & Friends radio show. Every media channel dives deep into the issues and provides answers and suggestions to improve the customers’ life.

The brand takes full advantage of the web and is synced with Oprah’s TV show daily. If you missed the show you can find interviews with photos and video clips so you can enjoy the show you missed. The website also fosters a customer community. Online members can join discussion forums, get recipes for the holidays, and become part of the book club. Every aspect of the brand encourages members to participate. Audience members can ask questions to guest, readers can send letters to O magazine, and everyone is welcome to discuss the issues on

The Oprah brand also looks to its community for new ideas:

  • “Living your best life in 2009? Let us know how!”
  • “Do You Have a Great Money-Saving Holiday Tip?” and
  • “Do you feel empty, lost or disconnected?”

The brand asks the community to become involved with the brand they love. The result is a co-authored experience in which both parties benefit. The Oprah brand becomes stronger, constantly tuning into the customers want allowing them to experience what they love about Oprah. This relationship between the Oprah brand and its Brand Lovers attracts millions of new customers who are seeking the same answers.

Oprah’s brand is successful because every aspect of the brand speaks to the brand lover. Every TV show, every magazine issue, and every web page represents the Oprah brand in the same way.

If you want to build a lasting relationship with your customers then every aspect of your brand must speak to the heart of your Brand Lovers and the rest will follow.

Where to go from here

Ikea Brings Fun Shopping to Your Home


Many retailers loose a big edge online because they don’t create a pleasurable shopping experience, a place where the customer can enjoy the essence of the brand and even do a little “window shopping.”

If you have never visited you don’t know what you’re missing. Perhaps one of the best shopping experiences found online, Ikea’s Web site is considered to be a “best of breed” by the “Web Globalization Report Card,” placing 23rd out of 200 Web sites.

More amazing than their online store is the fun experience provided through their online kitchen showroom. Ikea has developed this online showroom to inspire their customers with ideas for their kitchens. Check out the experience for yourself!

Ikea has set up an online experience that can’t even be matched in a real life scenario. With great music, photography, and a lot of imagination, Ikea allows their shoppers to look through their products and get a feel of what it can do for their home. Although there are many products displayed with their price, Ikea wants you to take in the full experience and doesn’t even offer any kind of shopping cart to distract you from the experience.

Ikea creates an online showroom that sparks anyone’s imagination. By inventing different scenarios, music, and different atmospheres, Ikea allows everyone to find something they love about Ikeas design.

So what can we learn from Ikea’s online experience?

Ikea shows us that great brands extend past the physical world. Making sure their online space reflects their physical locations and atmosphere, Ikea makes sure they give their customers an enjoyable shopping experience?even if they’re just browsing.

Don’t be afraid to show who and what your brand is throughout all touch points. Give your customers and those interested in becoming your customers a unique experience no matter what aspect of your brand they encounter.

Happy Brand Building.

Where to go from here

IKEA Cult Brand Profile

Make Love Requited

The Loyalty Continuum

It Takes More than Respect to Win Your Customer

Are you on the journey to create a Cult Brand? Then you must understand that respecting the customer is very important. “Treat others as you want to be treated,” As the Golden Rule instructs. It takes a lot more than respect, however, to win the heart of your customers.

Most companies think that showing your customer respect is conveyed in the trade of money for goods that come with a warranty. That barely hits the minimal standard in today’s business world.

Southwest is a great example of how a company can go above and beyond the norm. Southwest Airlines continues to grow its business in a struggling airline industry because they have a commitment to their customer. They respect the customers’ time and money by having on-time arrivals and departures. They respect the customer’s trust by misplacing their luggage. They show the customer love by cultivating an entire company devoted to serving them.

We expressed the love Southwest shows to its customer in our Southwest Airlines Cult Brand Profile: “There’s no hierarchy between pilots and baggage handlers. Everyone is working together to best serve the customer and they’re happy to do it. Not only does their state of mind create a positive atmosphere for the customers, but their efficient, communication-focused approach has resulted in fewer lost bags, fewer delays, and, inevitably, fewer complaints.”

Apple stores are another great example of a brand working hard to respect and care for its customer. Apple assembles an inviting store layout that is easy to browse and interact with products for anyone. They constantly have Mac genius’s looking for people to help with any problem no matter how big or small. The same employee that helps you select your products is the same person helping you checkout, trying to create a more personal experience for the customer. The employee is also ready at a moments notice to help the customer checkout from anywhere in the store to avoid waiting in line. The customer doesn’t even have to worry if they have the receipt in the bag since Apple e-mails a copy to the consumer in case they need to return anything.

The Respect Research Group explains, “Respect seems to denote a characteristic of interaction, which is more than acceptance but does not reach as far as love.” That’s why you must show your customer more than respect. Demonstrate that you love your customer as much as your customer loves you. When you show them love they will begin to feel like they are a part of something more. Eventually, they may even feel like they’re a part of the family. (link to, Apple genius bar helping customer or Mac convention)

Build a brand that operates from love, not fear. Herb Keller, CEO of Southwest Airlines says, “An organization bound by love is far more powerful than one bound by fear.” Don’t be afraid to show more than respect to your customer, empower your employees to serve them and show them love. This will build trust* between your customers and your brand, creating a relationship that benefits all.

* Trust drives sales. If a company loses the customer’s trust, three out of four (76%) say they will simply stop buying from them. Conversely, if a company earns consumer trust, 42% will buy more products and over half (54%) will recommend the product to others. Women in particular believe trust is an essential quality in the companies they buy from (56% of females cite this as important versus 47%). (Source: UK Customer Trust index 2007.)

Making the Case: Nintendo

It’s significantly slower than competing system. It has less graphic capabilities. Its controller is reminiscent of game play circa 1985. Yet, it has outsold all next-generation video game systems.

Nintendo has dominated the video game world because it isn’t exclusively for gamers; it’s exclusively for anyone that wants to have fun. Showing the Rule of Openness, Nintendo’s aim has always been to make gaming fun, for people age 0 to 100.

Even prior to the 2005 launch of the Wii, Nintendo was no new comer to the field of gaming. Since the emergence of Nintendo’s first video game counsel, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), they have kept a clear focus on making clean, simple, and fun games anyone can play. With perennial classics like Super Mario Bros and Duck hunt, anyone in the family can play video games. By 1995, over 62 million NES systems and 500 million games had been sold.

Nintendo released many different gaming systems over the last two decades. Through its metamorphosis, Nintendo has always kept their brand strong and relevant to the consumer by focusing on fun and lovable characters. Game characters such as Link, Donkey Kong, and of course, Mario have always been a key ingredient of Nintendo’s success. These friendly characters have been featured in every Nintendo system and have become a part of celebrated gaming history.

As of September 2006, Nintendo had sold 275 million Mario games worldwide, easily making the little Italian plumber the best-selling game character of all time. This level of commitment to the brand and its characters has kept Nintendo as one of the top choices and must-have video game systems. With raving fans the world over, it is hard not to believe Nintendo has created a community in love with them.

As Nintendo continues developing new video games and systems, two things are always at the forefront of their efforts: fun and easy to use.

Nintendo’s release of the Wii seemed like a profoundly risky move, but all Cult Brands show courage. With a slower processor and simplistic graphics, many critics and market analysts didn’t see how the Wii could effectively compete with the more powerful gaming platforms offered by Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation3. With over 10 million units sold, however, Nintendo is reigning supreme over its more expensive competitors.

By making the Wii a gaming system for everyone, Nintendo has created a new video game frenzy with its motion detecting controller. “While game consoles typically attract young males, the Wii is bringing people across all demographics together: in nursing homes, for Wii bowling leagues, on cruise ships, Wii-themed parties and, of course, in lines – as hordes of consumers clamor to buy the impossible-to-find $250 machine. Nintendo is churning out over a million units a month and still can’t meet demand.” (money.cnn) Nintendo did not only create a video game system, like all cult brands they have created a lifestyle.

Nintendo’s constant strives to make video games easy, fun, and accessible to all have really paid off. While others video game systems have focused all their energy on graphics and fast processors, Nintendo has focused on what is important: making sure their customers have fun. By following the Golden Rules embraced by all Cult Brands, they have cultivated relationships that can last a lifetime.

Where to go from here

Where your Brand Matters Most

Your brand extends everywhere, especially at the point of purchase. If you have your own retail space make sure your store says, looks, and feels what your brand is trying to communicate.

The luxury brand Coach sets up their merchandise as if they were unique art pieces.

Coach is a leading designer and maker of luxury lifestyle handbags and accessories, so they make their store space feel luxurious and unique. By displaying their merchandise like art they allow consumers to immerse themselves in the world of Coach.

But what if your brand doesn’t have its own retail space and it has to play in someone else’s playground?

American Greetings cards makes sure their brand stays powerful and relevant no matter where it is being experienced.

If you have never been to the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, this is how it looks when you walk through the isles.

As you walk through isle after isle of everything you can imagine everything begins to look the same. Everything from toys to cleaning supplies are racked up with their low price guarantee sticker everywhere you look.

How does any one brand even pop out and get recognition in a world with infinite options for consumers to choose from?

The only way to reach your consumer with so many competitors surrounding you is to be true to your brand and allow it to be reflected in the marketplace.

American Greetings takes care of their personal space and allows their customers to get a unique experience. If greeting cards isn’t a personal category, what is?

Understanding this principle, American Greetings makes their selling space a personal experience. Notice American Greetings’s space is organized as well as the beautiful signage to represent the different genres of cards. To top it off, they even have a beautiful light fixture that completely brings in an atmosphere ideal for selecting and purchasing greeting cards. American Greetings can’t force people to buy their greetings cards, but they set great conditions for the consumer to want to look, touch, and read their cards.

What can you do to make your space better reflect your brand identity?

Happy Brand Building.


Happy 105th Anniversary Harley-Davidson!

Hundreds of thousands of people gather from all corners of the world. Some people take months off of work; others quit their jobs. They come from South America, Europe, Asia, and even Australia—and from all across the United States. You can hear them coming miles away as they outnumber cars on every highway.

Of course this gathering can be in only one place: the home of Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, WI.

On August 28th 2008 Harley owners came together for a four-day celebration of Harley-Davidson’s 105th Anniversary. With the new Harley Museum opening its doors and 500,000 Harley Owners Group (HOG) worldwide members in attendance, this family reunion was bigger than ever.

The experience began with the purchase of a ticket for the main event. With each ticket Harley included a gift set containing a commemorative 105th Harley bracelet, a Harley-branded leather wallet with a key chain, and an American and Harley flag to wave from your bike. Every day, Harley dealers across the state of Wisconsin held parties in celebration with live music, great food, and plenty of beer. Harley made everyone feel like part of the family.

The main event was held at the Summerfest grounds. With four music stages featuring artist like Los Lonely Boys, ZZ Top, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and many more, it was hard not to have fun. Harley-Davidson bike displays were positioned throughout the grounds and included a traveling Harley Museum, exotic custom Harleys, and plenty of Harley merchandise. Everywhere you looked people where laughing, dancing, and having fun.

The party was not limited to Harley Davidson sponsored events. The entire City of Milwaukee became part of the celebration. Bikers were given free parking all around the city including at the Milwaukee art museum and at the summerfest grounds. Many restaurants and bars around the city held events for bikers every night. Even hotels outfitted their lobbies with Harley Davidson Motorcycle displays and memorabilia. Every detail resembled the look and feel of the 105th Anniversary logo. The entire city of Milwaukee became a Harley haven.

The Harley parade charged the city with excitement. It was a very special event for Harley owners since only 75,000 riders were chosen out of 150,000 riders who registered. Riders began lining up at 6:00am, four hours before the start of the parade. The five-mile route was filled with Harley enthusiast waiting to cheer their fellow HOG members. The parade began with dozens of Police motorcycle units with blaring sirens. Behind them came the Harleys cruising through downtown Milwaukee. The roaring engines echoed off the buildings and the crowd fed on it. Riders proudly waived their countries flag alongside their HOG chapter flags.

Harley’s rallies create Brand Lovers that have no comparison. Every HOG event pushes riders to rally more often and to meet more people. This strengthens the friendships between riders and re-enforces an emotional bond to the Harley brand. It does not matter where you’re from, how old you are, or what you do for a living, if you own a Harley you are family. The brotherhood transcends gender, class, and race.

Harley-Davidson embraces the family and showcases the good times had at the 105th anniversary. They allow the experience to live on.

Harley-Davidson’s 105th Anniversary

The Cult Branding team joined HOGs from around the world in Milwaukee for the 105th Anniversary event to learn more about their love for Harley-Davidson. Check out what we learned.

Where to go from here

Harley Davidson Cult Brand Profile

The Power of Associative Images

The Loyalty Continuum

MINI Mania Across the States

Monterey, California. It’s early morning. Hundreds of MINI’s line up. It’s not a new shipment of cars; in fact some of these MINI’s have driven from as far as Florida.

Why are all these MINI’s gathered? For one of the biggest events in motoring history: MINI Takes the States.

Starting in California and ending in Lakeville, Connecticut, this 4,000 miles road trip was the perfect way to celebrate everything MINI. Hundreds of MINI owners gathered for this historic trip and joined the rally across the states, an annual event inaugurated in 2006.

Great Cult brands create customer communities. MINI Takes The States was held to celebrate MINI’s vibrant community. “MINI owners always bring an unparalleled level of enthusiasm and energy to whatever they do, and I am excited to spend two weeks on the road with them. I encourage everyone, MINI owner or not, to keep an eye out for us in August and join in the fun for a day, a week, or even the full trip.” Jim McDowell, VP of MINI USA.

From the start of this historic journey MINI enthusiasts took every opportunity to have fun. MINI began the party with live music and a drive on Monterey Beach. With events such as MINI Music Festival in Tennessee, Tail gaiting parties, a carnival in New Jersey and a victory lap at the Lime rock racetrack, MINI showcased why they are masters at the golden rule of fun.

MINI is a lot more than a car—it’s a lifestyle. From a couple tying the knot to a husband paying tribute to his late wife, MINI owners became more than just friends, they became family. Over 3,000 registered participants from across the states traveled cross-country to celebrate the motoring lifestyle.

In each city MINI handed out rewards for several categories of enthusiasts. In Boston, Sandy Bouchieer won theI’m Not Afraid to be Noticed Award, for driving her ladybug spotted MINI all the way from Wyoming. The Tallest Person, Little MINI Award went to David Quesenberry who towered in at 6’5”. The Best Vanity Plate Award went to Shannon Polce, whose plate, MINIMZE, pretty much says it all.

MINI’s fun aspect goes way beyond the car. With events like MINI Takes The States and by constantly rewarding the community, it is easy to see why MINI and the people who drive them have a special relationship.

Interesting Links

MINI Takes the States Tour 2006 Video Highlights

A blog written for Motortrend by a MINI enthusiast who traveled and documented the 2006 tour

Making the Case: MINI

If you stop and talk to MINI owners about their car, you’ll see their eyes light up with child-like abandon. They’ll tell you driving a MINI is like driving a go-kart on a raceway course. The pick up is quick, the mileage is great, and the turns are seamless. They’ll even tell you that a MINI can do everything a sports car can do, without breaking the bank. They’ll animate, gesticulate, stimulate, and motivate. After a few minutes, you’ll want to motor to the closest MINI dealership and experience the phenomenon yourself. Their enthusiasm is truly infectious.

Like the Volkswagen beetle, MINI embraces the Golden Rule of Courage and stands out as something different. In the heyday of the gas-guzzling SUVs, the roads were congested with Escalades, Navigators, and the almighty Hummer. With bigger is better sensibility, drivers could preen their feathers and strut their egos by way of their vehicles. Yet when all of the cars were getting bigger, MINI prided itself on getting smaller, much smaller. When MINI wiggled its way onto the scene, it became the little engine that could.

MINI owners will tell you that although you might be the little guy on the road, out there fending for yourself, don’t be fooled. It’s usually the smallest member on the sports team with the most speed and agility. MINI has garnered respect because it can play on the same field as the big guns, sometimes leaving them behind in a cloud of smoke (but not too much smoke because MINI is gentle on the environment). Ultimately, it’s more fun rooting for the underdog.

Not the underdog for long …

MINI USA Sales have jumped 33% in new car sales in the first six months of 2008, compared to one year ago. This is no easy feat, since the car industry is facing its worst sales year in over a decade. With escalading gas prices, consumers are looking for wiser choices, and you certainly can’t beat MINI’s fuel efficiency at 37 miles to the gallon.

But it’s more than fuel efficiency that makes it a smart car. These are just a few reasons why MINI has the qualities of a powerful Cult Brand. Like other Cult Brands that follow the Golden Rule of Freedom, MINI celebrates each individual driver and encourages him or her to “you-ify your MINI.” MINI explains, “Everybody wants their car to say something different about them. Fortunately, the MINI can say anything.”

The roof is viewed as a blank canvas, waiting to be personalized and customized. If you’re feeling a little nationalistic, you can choose a flag, any flag, to proudly display. If you’re a child of the hippie era, flower power becomes your personal icon. If you’re a caffeine addict, you can slap a huge cup of Joe on your roof. There are hundreds of designs to choose from in the Roof Studio. Can’t find one you like? Go ahead and design it yourself.

MINI owners will also happily share their “MINI Moments” like the time when they pulled into a crowded parking lot, and squeezed into a corner spot that no regular-sized car could occupy. When your friends make the dare, you confidently turn your MINI around, drive in reverse, and effortlessly slide in. Fits like a glove.

Drivers will also boast about the ability to turn around on a narrow street in one shot. So forget about the three-point turn, MINIs can drive circles around and around their competition.

Like other Cult Brands, MINI loves surprising their customers at every turn. As a MINI owner, you might receive a cryptic package in the mail, complete with a purple filter sheet, a letter descrambler, a password key, and a note saying, “look forward to our hidden messages.” The following week, you’re reading the New Yorker magazine and you spot a MINI advertisement calling for a special code. Like a good detective, you grab your secret kit to decipher the covert message. But it really doesn’t matter what it says. What matters is that you’re like the lucky kid in the neighborhood holding the prized decoder ring from your winning box of Cracker Jacks.

This child-like, adventurous spirit prevails in the world of MINI. Remember how you could explore the world without constraints as a child? You couldn’t care less about what other people thought because you were too enthralled with each new and exciting discovery. MINI understands the nostalgia adults have for their younger years.

With a scrapbook of playful moments and creative collectibles, MINI defines the Golden Rule of Fun and sells lifestyles defined by freedom, good cheer, and camaraderie. As a Brand Lover or enthusiast, you might take part in MINI Takes the States Tour, traveling across country with a caravan of MINIs, stopping in different cities, attending special events, and mingling with other members of the MINI Family. However, staying true to the Golden Rule of Openness, the event organizers proclaim, “Everyone is invited, even if you don’t own a MINI.

For MINI owners, driving is not just a functional activity that makes going to work and running errands possible. It’s all about the experience. In their Book of Motoring, MINI explains, “The difference is in the mind of the operator. Just because you drive, doesn’t mean you motor. When you drive, you go from A to B. When you motor, you go from A to Z. It’s all about living. Nobody can tell you when you’re motoring. You just know.” Ultimately, for MINI drivers, “Mileage equals experience.”

Most of all, MINI proudly fosters a solid network of customer communities—the MINI Family, as it’s called—connected throughout the world. MINI explains, “Dating back to its birth in the UK, there’s a long-standing tradition of MINI owners acknowledging each other when they pass on the streets … So when you pass another MINI, don’t be shy. Give them a wave. It could be as subtle as raising an index finger off the steering wheel or as enthusiastic as two hands out the sunroof (although it would probably be best if these were passenger hands).” You’ll also hear MINI drivers acknowledging one another by flicking their headlights, and even giving high-fives out the window while passing each other by.

As you’re driving along the road, you might also make a kid smile. He’ll start waving with one hand, while punching his little sister with the other. Today’s new punch buggy perhaps?

That sounds about right.

Making the Case: Netflix

The weekend is finally here. After weeks of hearing co-workers talk about the latest blockbuster hit, you can finally head to your favorite movie rental store and grab the movie you just missed in theatres. You get excited as you enter the store and run to the new releases assured you will get one of the guaranteed copies. As your eyes finally focus on the movie you were looking for, you find yourself in a race with the customer next to you for the last copy.

This scenario used to happen way too often. You were forced to rent something you didn’t want, leading to a potentially unenjoyable movie night. Thanks to DVD-by-mail provider Netflix, those days are over.

Now, you peer into your mailbox with delight and glee on the sight of that distinction red envelope: your new Netflix movie has arrived!

With their number one goal of delivering movies to their customer’s home within 1 business day and no late fee’s, Netflix has become the primary choice for 8.4 million movie lovers across the United States. How has Netflix beaten its competition, including the former giant Blockbuster Videos and even behemoth Wal-Mart? They focused on making their service easy to use and always serving their customers better than anyone else. Netflix’s promise to always have a movie waiting at home has made them a dependable source that customers can trust.

Netflix provides customers with continuous gratification. Starting at just $4.99 a month, the service allows anyone who has an address and likes watching films to sign up. Netflix caters to the entire spectrum of moviegoers, offering nine different subscription plans to choose from. Casual movie watchers can sign up for the two-movies-per-month plan, while fanatical film buffs can choose unlimited rentals with eight movies out at one time. Plus, users can change their plan at any time with a single click.

Netflix makes it easy to navigate and search through 100,000’s of movie titles online. The personalized “Queue” allows users to quickly and easily manage their upcoming film selections. Their sophisticated rating and searching tool helps users search movies by genre, director, blockbuster hits, and of course, academy award winners. Like a specialized movie store, Netflix strives to make it easy for their customers not only to find what they are looking for, but also allows them to explore and experience new movies. With over thousands of obscure and popular movies available at Netflix, there’s always a new film to enjoy. Plus, since subscribers pay a monthly fee for unlimited films, you never have to feel guilty for renting a movie and not liking it.

Understanding that sometimes five days is not enough to watch a movie, Netflix never penalizes their customers with late fees. Unlike Blockbluster Video and other traditional movie rentals, Netflix customers can keep movies for months without any worries thanks to their monthly subscription model. When the customer is ready to return the movie they simply drop it in the mailbox; the postage is already included. Within two days a new movie from their queue arrives, keeping the customer constantly gratified. With more than 100 fulfillment centers across the United States, Netflix has made a commitment to get movies to their customers quickly.

With trips to brick and mortar rental houses frequently ending with bad movie night, a more frustrating scenario is leaving empty-handed. By allowing users to rate any movie on a 5-point scale, Netflix has created a unique customer database that is constantly being improved. By comparing users profiles, Netflix searches for similar trends and provides personalized recommendations of movies their other customers might enjoy.

If 100,000 titles to choose from aren’t enough, customers currently have over 12,000 movies titles they can instantly play from any computer. Netflix also allows customers to have access to streaming movies on their TV through the Netflix ready device and soon on the Xbox360 (coming in fall 08).

Through web ads and TV commercials Netflix constantly communicates how easy and reliable their services are to use. By keeping their promise they have become a commodity for movie lovers, some even claim to have Netflix marathons and watch 27 movies in one month. Netflix fans have formed an online social network for movie lovers where members can discuss the Netflix website, movies, and can create personalized pages. Netflix raving fans have even made their own Netflix commercial.

Netflix continues to succeed because they have one thing in mind, keeping their customers happy. By providing an easy way to navigate through movies, fast delivery, and zero late fee’s, it is no wonder so many people are falling in love with Netflix.

Apple, Making Friends From Foes

When the iPhone first released on June 29, 2007 there were lines of people in Mac stores across America waiting to be the first to pay $599—to touch its magical screen and make a phone call to a friend and scream “I got an iPhone!”

And there was another kind of person in those lines. This person could not wait to grab an iPhone, run home, and void their warranty immediately. Hundreds of developers, hackers, and power users were first in line to get their hands on an iPhone and start unlocking its full potential.

Since the first release of the iPhone people have been “jail breaking” and “unlocking” their iPhones by the hundreds of thousands. An iPhone that is “Jailbroken” can allow third party programs to be installed, such as games, karaokie machines, tip calculators, programming tools, and even a pretty stunning simulation of a guitar that could be played on the iPhone.

Other unique features of “unlocking” the iPhone include the ability to change settings in the phone, such as background images, sounds, and even the available service carrier.

In 2007 At a London Apple retail store where Jobs announced the iPhone’s Nov. 9 U.K. debut, He responded to a question about whether Apple would put a stop to the unlocking hacks that have mushroomed recently. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” said Jobs. “We try to stay ahead. People will try to break in, and it’s our job to stop them breaking in.”

When Apple first learned of the hack they released an update that would render “unlocked” iPhones useless, turning them into very expensive paperweights.

The hacking community did not stay still; within a day they had already found a way around the new update and hacked iPhones were working again. With every update that Apple has released, the community has found a way to continue to get the perks from Apple’s update while having their phones unlocked.

So what is Apple to do in a situation like this? Here is G4tv showing us one solution.

What Apple has done to help solve this problem is genius. The company decided to apply the Cult Branding golden rule of freedom and embraced their enemy.

Apple announced that they were releasing their SDK (Software Development Kit) to the public for free. But they went a step further too: Developers will receive 70% of the sale from their applications for the iPhone sold through the iTunes stores. Seventy percent represented an unprecedented earnings share and demonstrated a clear alliance with the hacker and development community. By being so generous with the developers Apple is extending their hand to all, they are helping to ensure the iPhone spot as the best handheld computer in the world.

With the release of the 3G iPhone, Apple is allowing the phone to be used in over 70 different countries, and eventually in the U.S with a different carrier other than AT&T. With over 1 million 3G iPhones sold on opening weekend and 70% of all sales, developers are starting to forget their hacking days and welcoming Apple as a new ally.

Of course there will always be the hardcore users who will never conform, but Apple’s strategy has helped them gain the trust and assistance of genius developers around the world. With this new addition to the iPhone developing team, the possibilities for the iPhone and its community are endless.

Apple has turned an enemy into a friend with a generous offer that seems too good to be true by industry standards. Apple is embracing the community that loves their product and all it has to offer. Instead of engaging in an endless battle with developers, Apple has opened the door to them.

There may be times when you might feel consumers are sabotaging your brand. You cringe at the thought of someone tainting your beautiful creation. Fear not. Make a friend out of a foe. Transform a saboteur into a brand evangelist.

Keep an open mind. Be ready to embrace change. Allow your best customers to co-create the future of your brand with you.