Product: Perhaps ironically, a product doesn’t have to be the best to transfix customers, only strike a chord. There aren’t many objective arguments to be made that the Mazda Miata or Volkswagon Beetle are the best cars on the road, but both vehicles’ fun factor, affordability, and nostalgic appeal (warts and all) has endeared them to drivers for decades.
Service: If your company’s service is fantastic — not good, not great, I mean insanely, over-the-top, beyond-compare fantastic — customers will stick to you like glue. My favorite go-to customer service company, shoe and clothing retailer Zappos, is pretty much writing the book on that these days. In a consumer environment where there are almost always loads of choices, trouncing the competition in service is often the key to winning customers’ enduring devotion.
Community: Harley Davidson (HOG) is the prototypical community brand. Sports apparel company Lululemon, with a very different demographic, is another one of more recent note. But many other companies and products you probably have never heard of have enormously passionate communities built around them. The Lomo camera — another case where the quality of the product isn’t key to the cult (the cameras are in fact loved for their flaws) — has attracted as obsessive a user community as you can get.