Consumer Belief Systems: Brands as Religions
The most powerful brands connect with people like religions do. They have a belief system people want to be part of. They draw people to them. They provide an identity people want to adopt as their own.
The thing is, not all brands become religions. Not all brands have that important something that makes people want to join. People may buy the product but they don’t have the connection with the brand that ties them on a higher level.
So, how can your brand become a religion?
It has to stand for how people want to be.
Strong brands offer up something we admire. They have values and behave the way we want to behave. They stand for something different from the other brands in the category. I’m not talking about things like having the lowest cost or lasting the longest. Those are product benefits. I’m talking about a kind of philosophy or belief system. Strong brands inspire a level of connection and even devotion that overshadows product functions.
To make sure your brand has a belief system, first of all get a handle on what you as a company are all about. Do some soul-searching to define what you really care about and what makes you stand apart from the rest of the category in terms of values and ideals. Get above the product features and benefits. Get above the category. The more you can distinguish what your brand stands for outside the category, the more you insulate it from competitors matching your features. The more you rise above price wars.
Make sure you listen to the people who buy your product. Let them tell their stories about their lives and what they care about. Understand them on a deeper level than just why they buy your product. Understand their histories, their motivations and their relationships to the culture. Understand their aspirations and fears. Get insight into the possibilities to connect with them on a higher level.
Make sure your brand offers up a vision they want to be part of. Don’t think of selling to them; think of being something they want to buy into, to join. Make it something that matters to them and that defines a way they want to be. Make it something that completes them somehow, like a religion does.
Let me know what you think.
Marketing Research Consultant