There is a remarkable similarity between brand marketing and cult allegiance (i.e. fanboys). And many of the techniques used by cults to woo their audience are also employed by marketing agencies eager to win trust and draw in lifetime customers.
Today the Examiner ran a story on How cults and marketers are more similar than you think which linked to this excellent graphical treatment:
Source: Christian Degrees
Some common features of Cults and Brands include:
Exclusivity (members only)
Focus on low-hanging fruit (people with a receptive psychology)
Sense of involvement
Sense of purpose
Rules: a right way and a wrong way
Convincing people they have needs
The common denominator here is that we’re all human beings. And both cults and marketing exploit our human needs to get us to do what’s in their best interest. As a marketer myself, it’s a little scary.
I personally like to err on the side of giving people what they already want and are looking for rather than re-shaping their wants and desires. That seems to me to be a fundamental difference.