Cults make effective brands, and today, they’re all around us. We engage with them on some level every day, and cult experiences have come to define so much of who we are as a society that you have to ask, how did we get here?
Perhaps the most insidious way cults have influenced the world around us is in everyday language that’s meant to control behaviors and change perspectives. It’s language we use with friends and colleagues, language in our media and content, and language we hear coming from today’s most powerful CEOs, on branded websites and in keynote addresses.
In this episode we’re talking with Amanda Montell, a language scholar and author of the critically acclaimed book, ‘Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism’ to understand why cults have had a resurgence in branding and in real life.
You’d be surprised to know that some of the successful brands of our time were either founded by, owned by, or closely tied to cults. There’s a very good chance that some influencer you’re following has at least borrowed from cult culture or knowingly created a radicalized cult around themselves. There are the cults we joke about like SoulCycle or Supreme, but they use the same dynamics and tools as the cults we like to gasp at in documentaries.
Cults and businesses have always been intertwined, and understanding how they use the power of language to move people is the first step to decoding how they work.
Links to interesting things mentioned in this episode and further reading: