Branding at Its Finest—Cult Brand: YETI Coolers

Cult Brand: A product or service that has an energetic and loyal customer base. A cult brand, unlike others, has customers who can be described as near-fanatical, true believers in the brand and may feel a sense of ownership or vested interest in the brand's popularity and success.

A recent study by American Express found that millennials, more so than any other age group, are the most brand loyal with 62 percent of millennials saying they tend to only ever buy one preferred brand compared to just 54 percent of the overall population. Given this statistic, a whole new challenge is presented to businesses in trying to personalize their identity to create that desired “cult following.”

For example, YETI, the high-end cooler company out of Austin, has grown at a staggering pace since its inception in 2006. Over the last three years, the company has grown more than 700 percent and generated nearly $500 million in sales with more than 6,000 retailers selling their products across the country. But what is it that made this company a gold mine? People have been selling coolers for decades, so what makes people willing to pay upwards of $250 for a cooler? Sure, Yeti coolers boast better construction and are durable enough to be tossed around a fishing boat, but Yeti isn’t just selling you a product, they’re selling you a lifestyle.

Built for the Wild.

Ryan and Roy Seiders, brothers and founders of the multi-million dollar business, were able to do what so many companies try and fail to do: find a niche market, people like them—outdoorsmen. Yetis are built to be able to support the weight of a grown man and be used as a casting platform on fishing boats. The Seiders themselves are fishermen and it was their frustration with the lack of sturdy coolers available that inspired them to design their own. Their mission was simple: build the cooler you’d use everyday if it existed.

Wildly Stronger, Keep Ice Longer.

Aside from hard-side coolers, the brand also sells tumblers, lowball ramblers, colster can insulators, soft-side coolers, bottle openers, wine tumblers and now, even apparel—just to highlight a few. The brand has now become synonymous with outdoor luxury, and garnered customers so loyal that the company is even able to sell a $1,300 cooler—the Tundra 350, with enough space to carry a whopping 82.4 gallons. That said, not all of their products are so outrageously priced; their basic tumblers and drink ware retail between $20-30.

The brothers know they have to continue to grow their product line in order to stay relevant, starting by expanding their design team at their HQ in Austin and researching delving into the international market. But overall, the company knows it needs to stick to its core values, making the best product on the market and, of course, keeping your beer cold.

It is sticking to this mission that will keep this company at the top of its game in a market that is already facing countless copycat products. Customers admire the way Yeti has stayed true to its goal, creating the best product available; it’s what they have promised for years and continue to prove with each new line. But without this brand identity, Yeti would be just another flash-in-the-pan hype product, and that’s what makes having a strong brand identity so critical to both financial success and customer loyalty. That’s something we at EMB truly admire and strive to help our clients achieve every day.