The Cult Brand Index: Rankings Part 1

Previously, we introduced 'The Cult Brand Index' a scoring rubric upon which the proficiency of any brand can be assessed

This afternoon, at The Market Research Event, in Orlando, we’ll unveil the Index to the conference (4 PM local time, if you’re attending the conference!), but for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to be in the Happiest Place on Earth, we’ll give you a little snapshot into the results!


1 / Mercedes Benz
2 / BMW
3 / Ferrari

Not all brands that made the cut in the auto industry category were luxury brands, but the top 3 are. Cult brands are particularly masterful at fostering a community of customers, and these three brands likely benefit from the fact that their “clubs” are quite exclusive and aspirational. Mercedes, BMW, and Ferrari are well known for their excellence in engineering, quality, as well as storied heritages – strong markers of cult. Auto brands did well, overall, and Mercedes scored the #1 spot on the entire ranking.


1 / Sam Adams
2 / Budweiser
3 / Dogfish Head

Time to make an important distinction. Cult is about customer loyalty and the relationship between brand and customer. Craft is about the process through which something is made. Budweiser is not craft, but it sure is cult; see Exhibit A for a strong sense of self and clear values, and Exhibit B for heritage (Clydesdales and ‘Murica). But let’s not take away from Sam Adams (#25 overall), a cult brand that’s staying stubbornly true to itself as craft brands continue to be gobbled up by conglomerates. Dogfish Head is esteemed among beer advocates, with its 120 Minute IPA, the stuff of legends and what would surely be a top performer if we ever looked at products alone.

Clothing & Apparel

1 / North Face
2 / Louis Vuitton
3 / Nike

Clothing brands stand out based on their potent product perception. North Face and Nike have reputations for quality that can withstand high-intensity situations, be it extreme weather or rigorous athletic activity, while Louis Vuitton is recognised as ultimate in craftsmanship. As a result, sporting these brands is something consumers are intensely proud of supporting, and wearing.

Financial Services

1 / Scottrade
2 / Edward Jones
3 / Fidelity

There are few things consumers love more than their money, but ironically, they don’t find themselves to be fanatical followers of the banks that hold their money, as the financial services category was the weakest performing category overall. Perhaps you can chalk it up to lingering anti-bank sentiment from the recent recession, but overall financial institutions didn’t perform great. Investment management and brokerage firms, however, did better than banks, with Scottrade coming in at #37 overall, benefiting from strong performance on attributes related to customer service, clear and consistent communications, and a strong value prop.

Food & Beverage

1 / Ben & Jerry’s
2 / Chipotle
3 / Coca-Cola

People love Ben & Jerry’s. The brand scored the #10 spot overall and #1 spot in Food & Beverage. It’s a trailblazer in its socially and environmentally conscious practices: eco-friendly packaging, opposition to growth hormones, and a dedication to making their products GMO-free. Add on “Free-Cone Day” and pop culture flavours such as the Jimmy Fallon inspired “Late Night Snack” and this guy, and you’ve got yourself a bona fide cult winner. Chipotle does well for many of the same reasons, and Coca-Cola is, well, Coca-Cola.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Rankings, in which we cover the top 3 brands in Personal Care, Retail, Spirits, Tech, and Travel.