What the Cult Brand, SoulCycle, Can Teach You About Messaging

Imagine this scenario: You walk into a dark, candlelit room and see 60 well-groomed people breathlessly moving their feet in unison, while someone at the front of the room shouts motivational cheers over the blasting, energetic music.

No, this isn’t a nightclub…or a religious cult. It’s SoulCycle, a high-end indoor cycling chain that has developed a cult-like following since its founding in 2006. At $34 a class (plus $3 for the shoe rentals that are required for class participation), the classes certainly aren’t cheap either.

With such a hefty price tag, what is it exactly that keeps SoulCycle customers coming back for more?

I’ll tell you this. It’s not the workout itself—Rather, it’s the way that the SoulCycle workout makes people feel.

It’s the unique, meditative experience of SoulCycle classes that leaves its cyclists feeling empowered and hungry for more.

In his book StoryBrand, Donald Miller talks about how customers (not the brand) should always be the hero of the brand story. And that’s exactly what SoulCycle does.

Take a look here:

Notice how they start the video by saying “This is not about a class. Not about a bike. This is about you. Your purpose. Your goals. Your drive.”

As one self-proclaimed SoulCycle addict states, “…SoulCycle has played a large part in helping me heal some deep emotional wounds. It has helped me find strength I didn’t know I had and connect to myself in a way I didn’t know I could.”

She admits that, “One thing SoulCycle is great at is creating an experience. From the motivating mantras on the wall to a focus on the ‘pack’ mentality, the rider feels connected to something larger than themselves, allowing them to temporarily step out of the stress and pressure of their everyday lives.”

Part of how SoulCycle empowers its riders is through its messaging—the way the brand talks to people.

Written on the walls of the studios are inspiring mantras like “We inhale intention and exhale expectation” and “We find freedom in our sprints.” On another wall are the words “Athlete, Legend, Warrior, Rockstar, Renegade.”

And their online brand persona matches their offline persona. Go to SoulCycle’s Instagram page and the bio asks, “What are you looking for?” and below that, “FIND IT! #FindYourSoul.”

In a refreshing deviation from the norm, SoulCycle’s latest marketing campaign encourages people to “Screw resolutions” and instead “Eat the damn cookie” and “Cut the ‘I’m sorry.’” As Marketing SVP, Sarah Choi, said, “We wanted [the campaign] to be about celebrating who [our riders] are and embracing the things that make them who they are.”

Bottom Line

Thanks in large part to its empowering and inspirational messaging that makes the customer the hero, SoulCycle has succeeding in becoming so much more than just a cycling company. It has become a movement.

So put some real thought into your own messaging strategy. Because if SoulCycle is any indication, the way that you talk to your customers and leads can make all the difference in your brand’s success.

Need help with your messaging strategy? Give us a buzz. We’d love to help.