Tony Wu

Web experience consulting

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From brands to religions

Citing Dan Brown’s latest The Lost Symbol:

“…what are the three prerequisites for an ideology to be considered a religion?”

“ABC,” one woman offered. “Assure, Believe, Convert.”

“Correct,” Langdon said. “Regions assure salvation; religions believe in a precise theology; and religions convert nonbelievers.”

Interestingly, the first image that popped into my mind was the various Apple retail stores.

I’m a Mac user myself. I admit loving the product and what Apple has achieved in integrating great software with beautifully performing hardware. However, I can’t help thinking how the brand has become a religion (or how the Apple Stores have become more of a Temple than of a retail store):

  1. Apple assures softwares that just work;
  2. Apple believes in making your life easier and seamless;
  3. Apple converts PC users.

More precisely, according to Russell Belk, a consumer behaviourist at the University of Utah:

“This religion is based on an origin myth for Apple Computer, heroic and savior legends surrounding its co-founder and current CEO Steve Jobs, the devout faith of its follower congregation, their belief in the righteousness of the Macintosh, the existence of one or more Satanic opponents, Mac believers proselytizing and converting nonbelievers, and the hope among cult members that salvation can be achieved by transcending corporate capitalism.”

Religion, Belk said, is a belief structure that helps people make sense of the world. The “cult of Mac” is a set of beliefs about Apple and the Mac that make sense of the world of technology. It also imparts the community with a quasi-religious character.

Worshipping at the Altar of Mac, Wired

At which does a brand become a religion? Or more importantly, how can a brand successfully become, if it was ever a good thing to be, a religion?

I think it all comes down to consumer experience and expectations. When a brand reaches a point where promises are being delivered consistently, brand loyalty can easily become a cult-like mindset.

I think however, an altar or temple-like space such as a retail store or online community is also essential in this transformation. For a long time, mankind has been prone to forces of the community. Being able to see and feel the growth in the number of believers certainly strengthens the idea that one is walking the right path.

What do people think?

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 28th, 2009 at 2:37 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “From brands to religions”

  1. [...] including more than half a billion apps this quarter alone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. From brands to religions – 09/28/2009 Citing Dan Brown’s latest The Lost Symbol : “…what are the [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tony Wu. Tony Wu said: Blog post: how do brands become religions? #brands #branding [...]


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