November 23

Good businesses have customers. But great brands have cult followers. Learn how – in Just 7 Minutes with Chris Kneeland

SBS Podcast


What You’ll Learn From This Episode:

  • Difference between cult and mediocre brand
  • Mistakes of relying in paid media and discounting
  • Applying the 8 brand cult principles


Related Links and Resources:

I will encourage everyone to go to two places. One is the website called, there's a lot of case studies and a lot of free contents, you can download a copy of the book and be exposed to those 8 principles. Even a free 'score card' or the self-assessment to see how well you are doing today. Another website would be  where you can register to the event that we do every year. There's a lot of videos there from brand leaders. The content is available for free for you to consume and learn from.


Chris Kneeland is the co-founder of one of North America's leading marketing engagement agencies. He and his team have dissected hundreds of cult brands, such as Marvel, Porsche, The Home Depot, Lululemon, and Red Bull to discover how to create brands that people love to work at, and consumers love to buy from. Chris now helps business leaders clone the success of the world’s most beloved brands in their own businesses.

Here are the highlights of this episode:

Chris has shared with us that the client he fantasized about is working with YETI (American outdoor manufacturer). His firm works with two types of businesses; business like YUTI which is destined to become great. Or, businesses that used to be great that are failing now. So, his team tries to 'resuscitate' brands back to their former glory. The 'cult brands' which is what good looks like, and then there's the 'mediocre brands' which is sufficient but not excellent. And the difference is the focus on awareness vs. advocacy.

Mediocre brands think that they'll become more successful when more people know about them. While Cult brands think that they'll become more successful when more people advocate on their behalf. Creating awareness involves one set of tools, tips, and tricks. Creating advocacy requires different set of tools, tips, and tricks.

Too many businesses are using the 'awareness playbook' and not enough in using the 'advocacy playbook.' Chris sees that most business owners tend to have an unholy reliance upon paid media and upon discounting. They think that if they shout louder or bribe people more, that they will more trial into their business. That is false because the best way to learn about a company is not through a paid media ad but it's through a referral. But it also causes them to under invest in the things that actually matter around consideration, inbound marketing, purchase decisions, and post purchase.

He says that when business starts to display negative symptoms, too many businesses owners’ default on hiring an ad agency to do more advertising. The creation of ads is almost counterproductive to the creation of advocates. They should stop fixing the symptoms of their issue but rather fix the cause of their issue.

Chris says that if you don't change your behaviors, you don't change your beliefs. He thinks why most businesses falls short from their potential, and he concludes that most people don't have adequate professional role models. Not everybody is mediocre. I encourage everyone to go to those 2 websites to know what I'm talking about. 

Chris’ Valuable Free Action (VFA): We advise people to start to understand 8 proven cult brand principles; 8 things that businesses do to transcend their category. If you just follow these 8 things more likely than not, you're going to be more successful.

Life is all about loving what we do every day and doing it for a good cause" – Chris Kneeland

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