SoulCycle riders cyclingCourtesy of SoulCycle

It's not easy to amass a cult following.

But some brands have managed to cultivate tremendous loyalty from their customers.

Bizarrely enough, others looking to emulate this sort of success look to actual cults for inspiration, cult expert Rick A. Ross told Business Insider.

Cults depend on strong ideologies, differentiating worldviews, and iconic leaders to hook their followers.

These brands have managed to figure all that out. There's one brand on this list, though, that recently lost its formerly loyal following a major crisis.

Danielle Schlanger and Kim Bhasin contributed to an earlier version of this story.


REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The brand got a shout-out on a Harvard Divinity School document called "How We Gather," crediting the brand for creating a strong community. 

SoulCycle acolytes wait until the clock strikes 12 on Mondays to sign up for classes. There's even an entire culture built around "earning" your way to the front row of the class.

"People talk about SoulCycle as a cult. My feeling is that SoulCycle makes you feel great," the fitness chain's founder, Julie Rice, told Los Angeles Magazine in an interview in 2014. "When we feel great, we become obsessed with what makes us feel great."


Flickr/Ali Samieivafa

Founder Greg Glassman explained to Business Insider that the brand amassed the following and community incidentally. The fitness company was featured in Harvard Divinity School's "How We Gather" list, which pointed out notable groups that fostered strong communities. Glassman even spoke at the Harvard Divinity School last November.

CrossFit's social aspect is very strong and is certainly crucial to its success. "The social level is a vital part of what's happened, and it is why you might think this is a cult — you might think it's a religion," CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman said in an interview. "The values are simple though, and we believe they are salient lifestyle choices that will make a profound difference in your life."


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You don't have to look much further than the hoopla surrounding every Apple product's release to recognize that Apple has a very loyal following.

One way to amass a loyal following is to create a demon which the community can unite against.

"If you paint a picture of a threat from the outside — you demonize a local god or you demonize a competitor like IBM — you create solidarity amongst your community because you have to unify to fight against an external threat," Douglas Atkin, author of "The Culting of Brands", explained to Business Insider. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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