You know when you go to a concert and need something that will immortalize the night? A ridiculously overpriced piece of merch that guarantees you can PROOF you’ve seen your favorite band 3 times.
Everyone has been to that concert. That festival. That match. Where you’ve walked out with the $40 t-shirt because you want a memory of that night, before realizing it runs small. I look at that Bon Iver t shirt that doesn’t fit me in my dresser every day with regret.
But, what if it was Kanye’s $225 crewneck? Justin Bieber’s $148 corduroy pants? Celebrities and brands continue to leverage this new type of demand to immense success, creating unbelievably loyal fanbases ready to jump at any new offering.
As “fan creators,” we believe that you don’t need to be a Kardashian to create loyal fans: you just need to know what kind of story you want to tell.”
1. Hype turns brands into celebrities.
People have been following trends on the recommendation of celebrities long before the Kardashians were talking up “weight loss” shakes and bike shorts.
What has changed, is the power traditional brands have to whip up “Beyonce Surprise Album Launch” levels of frenzy around new product launches. Today, consumers look for both their celebrities and their brands to stand for something more: truly unique experiences.
Supreme is a prime example of brands reaching celebrity type fandom.
In the 90’s, “Supreme” came into the world of skateboarding, attracting young kids who were looking for distinctive culture identity. Since then it has become a global brand, a trailblazer for high fashion, a frequent collaborator with musicians, athletes and creatives around the world, Supreme opened the gates for the hype economy.
Whether it’s for the new season’s launch, or a sudden collab drop, you can guarantee people waiting in lines for hours. Within minutes, items are already online reselling at astronomical markups, as documented in the Hypebeast documentary “Sold Out.”
Supreme didn’t have to sacrifice their identity to achieve this kind of celebrity. By staying true to their origins, and continuously catering each small detail of their business to that fan through the years,, they ensured that the core fan experienced unmatched attention. In turn, the fans gave it back. By constantly refreshing their catalog with limited runs and limited quantities, they also ensured demand–even if what they were selling was…a hammer?
When you have a good product and devoted fans, it’s only a matter of time before others get pulled into the orbit.
2. Hype and Community
Maybe you love waiting 10 hours in line for sneakers; maybe you love getting yelled at, in a dark room, with loud music, while drenched in sweat, on a stationary bike with 30 other people.
While we may scratch our heads about dropping $225 for a Kanye sweater, many don’t have the same reaction when it’s $150-$200 a month for crossfit or pilates at a boutique studio in Los Feliz.
Crossfit, spin class, orange theory, co-working spaces, are places to align ourselves with like-minded community, regardless of the financial cost. It’s the same thing that other brands are taking advantage of to spread their own hype.
Hype culture has created its own kind of community around brands. Fans flock to their favorite launches or pay for their favorite merch because it aligns them with people with similar purposes.
So how does this compare to something like, Tesla?
Despite numerous public struggles in recent years with delays, plummeting stocks and debts, malfunctions, and recalls (controversies and setbacks that would have toppled most other companies), they’ve managed to survive on the power of the brand hype.
Looking past the product itself, one reason for this, is the brands clear and defined mission: to accelerate the world’s transition to clean and sustainable energy. This type of brand ethos, is a pillar of the evolving brand economy. Tesla has ensured their brand stands for something beyond sales.
The limited supply of Tesla, like Supreme, ensures the exclusive feeling that comes with engaging with the brand. The unique experience of owning a Tesla along with an inspiring mission, creates community other companies could only dream of.
So what’s the tangible benefit of having hyped fans in community? How about them showing up to Tesla locations all around the world in the midst of a turbulent time for the company, to VOLUNTEER their time and labor for the company. Whether it was actually showing up to Tesla Delivery Centers to assist with new driver orientations and trainings, or dropping off donuts, that’s what tapping into hype creates.
3. Hype and your Business
At the end of the day, all that matters to you is what this means for your business.
You have the unique opportunity to position yourself in a way that invites fandom, no matter what you do. It’s about the mentality.
Hype culture has made fans more likely to jump at the chance to be a part of a truly “exclusive” fan experience. Are you giving your fans something to act upon that fandom with? If it’s not a shirt or sweater, is it valuable content? Exclusive video? Something else that’s unique or engaging?
Are you creating a community for them to engage with other fans and be mobilized? Does your brand stand for something worth forming community around?
You have a fan worthy story. Tell it in a way that makes noise.