By Sarah Liverance

In her most recent blog post, Cyndi outlined the characteristics of a cult brand and shared some examples. Here’s one more I’d like to add to the list.

When it comes to cult brands, Tesla’s the ultimate. They do everything a cult brand does…only better. Here’s my case:

  • Fanatical customers – A prerequisite for cult brands and Tesla’s actually shown Apple what it means to have fanatical customers. Have you ever met a Tesla owner? You’d know it if you have. I recently visited a Tesla store to test drive a Model S. Amir, a Tesla owner, was there for his Saturday morning ritual: catching up on the news over his iPad and a coffee while waiting for his Model S to charge. I had lots of questions for Amir but I didn’t even need to ask 80% of them. He could NOT stop talking about his car, its performance (it’s the fastest 4-door car in history), his purchase experience (no pressure, no surprises), his service experience (impeccable), all the great people he’s met through Tesla, in short – how his Tesla experience has changed his life. Amir’s not just a fanatic. He’s an evangelist and if you saw last week’s unveiling of the Model 3, you know Amir’s not alone. That audience sounded more like a bunch of Maple Leaf fans at the Stanley Cup finals (use your imagination for that one) than folks attending a car manufacturer’s new product announcement.
  • Disrupt their category – Cyndi mentioned that cult brands are courageous. I think the best ones take it a step further by changing the game entirely. They have the courage to shine the light on the “bad guys” and call them on their bad behavior. In Telsa’s case, they’ve landed a sound blow to traditional car manufacturers, their dealer associations, and less than respectable sales practices. They’ve scored a point for the good guys by letting consumers buy direct and vowing to never make servicing their cars a profit centre. They’ve called “foul” on vehicles with internal combustion engines by committing to make clean, high performing electric vehicles the norm. They’ve taken on the big guys and are turning the industry inside out.
  • Absolute brand clarity – It extends right down to the rep at the store. These guys and gals are young, clean cut, tech savvy, highly informed, and authentically committed to Tesla’s higher purpose. They take a quietly confident approach to educating potential buyers. Elon Musk’s personal brand is alive and well in each one.
  • Emotional connection – Tesla stands for something. Something important: accelerating the transition to sustainable transportation in hopes of one day solving our planet’s energy woes. Sounds lofty but if you listen to Elon Musk’s preamble to the unveiling of the Model 3 last week, it starts to feel really real. Curbing global warming and reducing toxic emissions that adversely impact our health – I can sign up for that. As a good global citizen, I must sign up for that. 

So next on my “to do” list: putting my $1,000 USD down to reserve my Model 3. I figure I’ll be #269,603 in the queue (and reservations just opened three days ago).

One more member joins the cult.