Rituals & branding

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on September 3, 2009

When my black cat came back safe after running out of home on Friday the 13th, I touched wood.

This may sound bizarre to probably most of us, but believe it or not superstitions form a big part of our lives. We shun away from the number 13, blame everything on the glass that broke in the morning and try not to spill milk. There are so many rituals performed everyday that it has integrated with our daily lives and become a habit. Ever wondered why most people get out of bed from the right side or why they use a particular pen for important meetings?

Impact of rituals on branding

These rituals are viewed as opportunities mGuinnessBeerany times. Marketers take advantage of an incident/practice and give it a meaning and a reason to continue. Imagine after a hard day’s work you go to the pub. All you want is cold beer and NOW. You order for Guinness and the wait for the foamy head to settle seems worth it. Ever wondered why? Guinness was once facing major loses because the consumers were not willing to wait ten minutes for their beer. So they turned tables and rolled out campaigns like:

“Good things come to those who wait”

“It takes 119.53 seconds to pour the perfect pint”

A “right” way to pour a Guinness was invented and led to the birth of a ritual. This actually helped to establish an emotional connection with the consumers and suddenly the wait was worth it!

Marketers sometimes create a reason to go on following the practice or they begin a whole new action that becomes popular and stands out from other brands. This is very similar to brand personality. Life is either breathed into a brand by giving it a personality or the persona evolves and is then strengthened.

Corona’s success is a case of an accidental ritual. Two decades ago, a bartender sliced a lime and popped it into the neck of a Corona to see if the others would follow suit. Other bartenders not only followed suit, but this ritual helped Corona overtake Heineken in the U.S. market.

Rituals work on the brain

Why are we talking about rituals in a blog on branding? Brands that have a ritual attached to them have a magnetic capacity. They stick to the consumers and this increases the brand recall. We tend to remember stories better. Our brain processes links much faster than independent elements. When a brand has many links attached to it, even if we come across an independent link, we automatically are reminded of the entire chain which leads to the brand and many times stimulate purchase. A small toy car with an M on it will remind us of a big red arched M -McD – burger & fries – cheese – you are probably on your way to the nearest McD now!

More on religion & branding coming up.

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