One day all successful brands will be like successful religions. They will have rituals, icons and even the type of rivalry exemplified in the proverbial battle of good versus evil. They will inspire “church-like evangelism.” So says Martin Lindstrom, popular speaker, author and a sort of guru of consumer psychology. But he isn’t the only one with such a mindset. Several authors and experts advance the idea that widely known brands such as Nike, Apple and Virgin, inspire a level of religious devotion to them. But such an idea has its critics, as not everyone is ready to agree that believing in a product is the same as believing in God. While a comfortable athletic shoe might draw a level of admiration, it doesn’t help people find purpose and meaning in their lives.
Still, Lindstrom is convinced of his point of view. As he sees it the world’s great religions serve up mystery, powerful storytelling, sensory appeal, and a sense of belonging. Lindstrom notes that faith isn’t rational. It’s deeply emotional. For example, it feeds our need to belong and not drift aimlessly. And just as churches appeal to these emotions, successful brands can do the same to inspire a following. But not so fast, say the true believers. Brands are merely picking and choosing aspects of religious practice and are consequently imitators. True believers understand that no brand can replace God. But True Religion is a brand onto itself.
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