Ritualising your brand: how establishing meaningful, ownable behaviour can create lasting loyalty and value


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Inspired by the intersection of two areas of interest I have written about previously (stories & archetypes and behaviour change), this is a work in progress that explores the ways in which embedding ritual into your brand can build lasting loyalty. I am interested in any thoughts you might have.

(If you would like me to present this or similar to your organisation, please feel free to get in contact)

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Ritualising your brand: how establishing meaningful, ownable behaviour can create lasting loyalty and value

  1. RITUALISING YOUR BRANDHow establishing meaningful, ownable behaviourcan create lasting loyalty and value(Jon Howard) http://www.flickr.com/photos/28554612@N06/4875408788/
  2. “Ritual is important” (John Lennon)
  3. But sometimes we don’t realise how deeplyrooted such symbolic action is in our lives http://www.flickr.com/photos/camillaskye/4620413813/
  4. http://www.niceworldpaper.com/images/wallpapers/British_Royal_Wedding_16-636374.jpeg
  5. http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/2713158487/
  6. http://www.flickr.com/photos/iskcondesiretree/4690723244
  7. http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/5654919643/
  8. http://www.flickr.com/photos/beckzaidan/4547351791/
  9. http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintonmeyer/4065349656/
  10. http://cdn.ientry.com/sites/webpronews/pictures/guy_fawkes_fire_616.jpg
  11. http://www.flickr.com/photos/adubyk/5510125519/
  12. http://www.flickr.com/photos/phade71/5517027668/
  13. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahabraun/4835579487
  14. http://www.flickr.com/photos/14701355@N06/2840853338/
  15. http://www.flickr.com/photos/32345152@N07/4086741680/
  16. THE PURPOSE OF THIS PRESENTATION:To explore how harnessing the power of ritual can helpbuild brands rich in meaning, which form lastingconnections with people, both individually and collectively http://www.flickr.com/photos/pogonophobia/552418542/
  17. WHERE WE WILL GET TO:6 benefits of ritualising your brand… http://www.flickr.com/photos/diaznathan/3364271595/
  18. WHERE WE WILL GET TO:…and 10 tips on creating a brand ritual that will stick http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaxxon/165554106/
  19. BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST:what is…and what isn’t a ritual?
  20. Ritual is not the same as habit or routine(useful as these may be) This is auto-pilot activity driven by mental convenience, but with little intrinsic significance http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahsocean/4450493007/
  21. Nor is ritual just doing what everyoneelse does (although collective action ispart of much ritualistic behaviour) http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecny/3994892145/
  22. Ritual isn’t simply following instructionsor doing what you are told either http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetruthabout/2726232992/
  23. And it is definitely not just continuing to dothe things you like doing (nice as that is!) http://www.flickr.com/photos/swapnamaha/2308273444/
  24. Or the things you feel (physiologically)compelled to do (even if it’s true that many rituals do involve addictive and intoxicating substances!) http://www.flickr.com/photos/segiy/4843562080/
  25. Branding such habits and behaviour can have real business valueBut true ritual comes when you move tosomething deeper and more emotionally potent
  26. “action wrapped in a web of symbolic meaning” (David Kertzer, prof. of anthropology, Brown University) Ritual is behaviour imbued with meaning, purpose and belonging http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulboyd/2317561172/
  27. Our need for ritual is something hardwired,that transcends and predates even humanity http://www.flickr.com/photos/13586721@N05/3017017329/
  28. And since the dawn of time, ritualistic behaviourhas been central to human psychology and culture It was how we made sure the world worked (and in many ways still is) http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbarton/312257988/
  29. lucky socks anyone! http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasiaflickr/265397571/
  30. Best in the world because they are bigger, fitter, and more skilful?Or because a successfully performed Haka inspires selfconfidence, intimidates the opposition, and maybe invokesthe power of Tumatauenga, Maori god of war? http://www.flickr.com/photos/46025385@N02/4630678870/
  31. Which is all very interesting, butwhat has it got to do with brands?
  32. Brings us back to where we started…6 benefits of ritualising your brand 1. Integrated beliefs 2. Emotional connections 3. Sense of belonging 4. New possibilities 5. Unconscious reinforcement 6. Passionate worship http://www.flickr.com/photos/diaznathan/3364271595/
  33. Benefit 1: integrated beliefs http://www.flickr.com/photos/tristanlb/3856924278/
  34. The eternal marketing challenge: people don’tbelieve what we say (even when it is true!)… http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/6286035424/
  35. …but will (irrationally) believe in the thingsthey do already…no matter how wrong! http://www.flickr.com/photos/dathan/1106468534/
  36. Cognitive dissonance: where beliefs andbehaviour fight, behaviour usually winsand our beliefs change accordingly
  37. Why rituals are so powerful:behaviour that integrates ‘right’beliefs which soon become your own http://www.flickr.com/photos/hanneorla/2537602184/
  38. Why rituals are so powerful:behaviour that integrates ‘right’beliefs which soon become your own http://www.flickr.com/photos/snowblink/2559977471/
  39. Benefit 2: emotional connections http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasper86/2064371983/
  40. We are fundamentally emotional beings interms of how we respond to the world
  41. Whilst it is easy to deliver asuperficial, short term buzz http://www.flickr.com/photos/rondlarg/5949501742/
  42. The power of ritual is in the deep andlasting emotional connections it creates http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytripsmypics/6314663274/
  43. The power of ritual is in the deep andlasting emotional connections it creates http://www.flickr.com/photos/graemecameron/5303879925/
  44. It is action full of meaning and rich withpotent, memorable symbolism and language http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakeperks/3625999448/
  45. It is action full of meaning and rich withpotent, memorable symbolism and language
  46. Benefit 3: sense of belonging http://www.flickr.com/photos/thundi/5225098332/
  47. Our culture values individuality and doing your own thingBut solitary action lacks the behavioural reinforcementthat comes from acting together http://www.flickr.com/photos/62501020@N00/2903959403/
  48. Having common cause reinforces the rightness ofour actions (even for those at a group’s margins) http://www.flickr.com/photos/cornhusk/3003206925/
  49. Explains why the group behaviour andcollective belief of ritual has such power http://www.flickr.com/photos/fakechildhood/357653423/
  50. Ritual signals the difference between the ‘in’ andthe ‘out’; those who know and those who don’t http://www.flickr.com/photos/peregrinari/3375189992/
  51. It is a powerful unifier (and leveller) for those on the inside,no matter the apparent differences between them http://www.flickr.com/photos/vm1757/235867254/
  52. Even when ritual is performed alone, knowing othersdo exactly the same thing imbues it with significance http://www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/3775578653/
  53. Even when ritual is performed alone, knowing othersdo exactly the same thing imbues it with significance http://www.flickr.com/photos/djbp/3548089147/
  54. Benefit 4: new possibilities http://www.flickr.com/photos/jberroa/2085134759/
  55. We often think the purpose of ritual is simply toreinforce tradition and maintain the status quo http://www.flickr.com/photos/tantek/5309060931/
  56. We don’t recognise the significant power that lies in tension…...between tradition and change,old and new, past and future http://www.flickr.com/photos/55867717@N00/2200021847/
  57. Ritual is a doorway to potential: a ‘thresholdspace’ where anything is possible http://www.flickr.com/photos/deanlehphotography/4570555699/
  58. It is a rite of passage and coming of age,as what is becomes what could be
  59. The appeal of ritual lies in the promise it offers ofsignificant change and new possibilities http://policytensor.com/2011/06/09/intrigue-in-yemen-and-syria/
  60. The appeal of ritual lies in the promise it offers ofsignificant change and new possibilities
  61. Benefit 5: unconscious reinforcement http://www.flickr.com/photos/regalhypnosis/3933912617/
  62. We are often fickle and easilyenticed by the next big thing Novelty is the antithesis of ritual! http://www.flickr.com/photos/jacksiddons/5335462583/
  63. The benefit of ritual is in thestickiness it creates http://www.flickr.com/photos/53354298@N05/5377012942/
  64. Chemically, our brains like theshort term hit that ‘new’ delivers But we are also neurologically wired to prefer paths of least resistance, and so favour well established behaviour http://www.flickr.com/photos/anemoneprojectors/5722272747/
  65. The repetition of ritual has a subconsciousyet powerful loyalty building effect http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparka1992/5333316923/
  66. The repetition of ritual has a subconscious yet powerful loyalty building effectTrue whether a religious,cultural or brand ritual http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelittlemouse/4238601604/
  67. And it’s not just our own behaviour: we can ‘learn’ throughmirror neurons which fire in response to the action of others http://www.flickr.com/photos/72278438@N00/3036589615/
  68. In this way, the rituals people perform canhave a viral effect on those around them We see interesting behaviour, copy without necessarily thinking why and belief follows on http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytripsmypics/4963788085/
  69. We see interesting behaviour, copy withoutnecessarily thinking why and belief follows on http://www.flickr.com/photos/kacibeeler/542766154/
  70. Benefit 6: passionate worship http://longhairedweirdos.blogspot.com/2011/04/martha-my-dear.html
  71. It’s a small step from ritualisticbehaviour to true passion http://www.flickr.com/photos/bpbp/5003115511/
  72. And for brands, as with any religion,such adoration is the ultimate goal http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenniferkr/3868880639/
  73. And for brands, as with any religion, such adoration is the ultimate goalhttp://www.prohumanwrites.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/470_iphone1110.jpg
  74. “The Bishop of Buckingham – who reads his bible on an iPad –explained the similarities between Apple and religion. Andwhen a team of neuroscientists took a look inside the brain ofan Apple fanatic…the results suggested the brand was actuallystimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagerydoes in people of faith” (BBC: the Secrets of the Superbrands) http://www.flickr.com/photos/12905355@N05/6629255509/
  75. So ritual has benefits…but how do you do it?(or 10 tips on creating a brand ritual that will stick) 1. Real 2. Meaningful 3. Defined 4. Consistent 5. Anchored 6. Finite 7. Iconic 8. Easy 9. Sharable 10. Ownable http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaxxon/165554106/
  76. 1. Build on reality:The most potent rituals aren’t inventionsbut rather dramatise a genuine truth Always look to ritualise existing product functionality or consumer behaviour (even if not universal ) http://www.flickr.com/photos/starfive/
  77. 2. Embed meaning:A true ritual is always a means to an end(belief) not an end in itself (behaviour) Make sure your ritual has a set of embedded beliefs and values, otherwise it is just habit http://www.flickr.com/photos/thedigitalpagan/3456667996/
  78. 3. Define rules:Ritual has fixed form and function,the words to say and actions to do Without clear explanation and guidelines, you have no ritual and people will do whatever they like
  79. 4. Be consistent:The most powerful rituals use repetitionand rhythm for positive reinforcement Your ritual shouldn’t be boring…but avoid the temptation to chase novelty and gimmicks http://www.flickr.com/photos/34952467@N00/6774669736/
  80. 5. Anchor with context:Effective ritual tends to be linkedto a specific place, time or occasion When developing a ritual, always be clear on your ‘where’ and ‘when’ http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaptainkobold/245450674/
  81. 6. Have a finite length:Ritual is never constant but lasts for a specifiedduration defined by time or action See your ritual as a break from the norm, but with a clear beginning and end http://www.flickr.com/photos/heinekren/59461893/
  82. 7. Employ iconic imagery:The most famous rituals have elements thatamplify influence beyond those who take part Use memorable iconography and actions to better establish rituals in popular consciousness http://www.flickr.com/photos/zghazzal/3816115026/
  83. 8. Make it easy:In a religious or cultural context, the difficultyof a ritual is often central to its potency But with brands, why create barriers when simple and straightforward encourages adoption? http://www.flickr.com/photos/80327698@N00/1223220084/
  84. 9. Share it around:If ritual is about group belonging, the morepeople who take part the better Make ritualistic behaviour easily mimicable so it can be passed on by word of mouth or observation http://www.flickr.com/photos/bcbusinesshub/4683318581/
  85. 10. Own what you do:Ritual helps people define who they are, whatthey believe, and why this differentiates them For your ritual to have true power it must be something others don’t, and ideally can’t do
  86. Successful rituals needn’t have all these qualities,but the more you have the more potent yours will be http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulpatras/6659028147/
  87. 1. Real 2. Meaningful 3. Defined 4. Consistent 5. Anchored 6. Finite 7. Iconic 8. Easy 9. Sharable 10. Ownablehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/pogonophobia/552418542/
  88. Ultimately, Ritual gives emotionally potentmeaning to otherwise mundane behaviour, anduses it to create genuine and lasting brand loyalty http://www.flickr.com/photos/pocphotography/6946187971/
  89. So look around: where does thepotential for ritual lie in your brand http://static.flickr.com/120/283850975_1e6a516108_b.jpg
  90. Because, to paraphrase Field of Dreams:If you ritualise it they will stay
  91. And all your brandloyalists shouted… “Amen”! http://www.flickr.com/photos/hvitveis/6871513302/