Brands, in many ways, are new religions.
Not all brands reach “religion” status, but many try. Just think about any brand you’ve heard referred to as having “cult” status?
If you’ve read or watched Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or the film Dogma, or read any of the many articles written on this topic, you know I’m not the first to think about this. But I may be the first ordained Kohenet, who also happens to be a professional marketing strategist to explore this as in insider on both sides of the conversation.
With the exception of one HBR article, it makes me wonder if brands or marketers truly understood the potential of their power and subsequent responsibility. Because as the wise Jewish sage Stan Lee once wrote, “with great power there must also come — great responsibility.”
Too many companies seem to only believe they are responsible to their shareholders. Too many marketers are just focused on the dollars and growth for growth’s sake too.
As we’re living in an era where people often trust companies more than the government, and the people who lead major businesses are starting to recognize that they need to have an actual function in society that is beyond dollars — it seems worth while to explore how businesses, business leaders, and marketers can utilize their religion status in a positive way.
First we have to look at what the role of religion is, or should be. We’ll use these definitions of religion from Merriam Webster to get us started:
- a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
- a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
But that doesn’t really say what the components of a religion are. In his HBR article, Utpal M. Dholakia shares that every organized religion contains three key components:
- Core beliefs and values
- Symbols, myths, and rituals
- Relationship with a community