In reading Adage’s CMO Strategy Column, “How Apple, Others Have Cultivated Religious Followings“, by Martin Lindstrom, I found myself again pulling on my knowledge studying psychology and sociology in my college years. Martin lays out nine components of that powerful brands share with religion in the article. I also found this blog post by Adam Singer, Marketing Lessons To Learn From Religion, that shares additional ideas.
The common themes here are that religion, for believers, occupies as larger portion of our thoughts and their connections to the world around them in the images and associations they make. When you add the fact that humans are by nature are social, we then understand that groups with similar beliefs will form and reinforce and strengthen each others behaviors and beliefs. Achieving this is for some brand/product managers is the pinnacle feat.
Now think about the brands/products that fall in this category…
Lindstrom’s article highlights Apple, Harley-Davidson, and Guinness. All are powerful brands with strong followings. They are not just strong because of a nifty logo or great product, but they become identifiers for a person and how they see the world and how the world sees them (e.g. “I love Macs”, “I live Harley”, “My drink is Guinness”). Also worth noting, these products and brands “serve” their followers by making their lives easier or granting them pure joy.
Takeaways for marketeers:
Religion is a useful framework to look at in how to drive higher engagement from consumers. Please be careful that you truly understand and are committed to the absolute need to “serve” your followers. This servitude has to be at the forefront of your activities vs. monetizing the relationship. Serve them first and pray that they will thank you for it later. Lindstrom and Singer have additional suggestions and ideas to ponder in their respective article and post.
Finally, a video that highlights cult research and transferability to brand building…enjoy.