How many brand rituals have you participated in this week? Have you ordered a Blue Moon with an orange slice perched on the side of your glass? Have you twisted open an Oreo (“milk’s favourite cookie”) and then dunked it? Have you pushed a lime wedge into your Corona, inserted your pinky into the bottle opening, and tipped the bottle to mix? Do you study, or at least crack open the laptop, whilst sipping a Starbucks? Do you break a Kit Kat apart, section by section…rather than commit the sacrilege of taking irregular bites? Have you witnessed a bartender ritualistically pouring a Stella Artois or a Guinness?
These rituals are not accidents, nor were they shaped entirely by consumers. These practices were designed as parts of these brands’ strategies. Read on to learn why, as well as how you can create something this powerful for your brand.
Brand Rituals: to Set your Brand Apart
Creating a brand ritual does build a brand, and it works because it adds value.
- Brand rituals create the perception of exclusivity. Only those who regularly use the brand know about the ritual, creating the sense that buying and using the product puts them in a ‘secret club.’ Of course, others are welcomed to join, but there’s that awkward period in the beginning when the newbie isn’t quite sure what to do…making those who are loyal to the brand seem more like experienced insiders (which adds value for them). It also makes the brand more intriguing for those ‘on the outside,’ and they’ll want to get in on the value.
- Brand rituals add value by differentiating brands from their competitors. Even if the name of the brand slips a consumer’s mind, they’ll recognise it by the ritual that goes along with it. This qualifies as a USP (Unique Selling Proposition), which is crucial to brand positioning.
- Brand rituals create user experiences. If you want to build a brand that is memorable and occupies a significant space in your target audience members’ minds, then creating a user experience (one that demonstrates your brand’s values and furthers its mission) is the way to go. An expertly crafted brand ritual will accomplish this. Make it fun, make it meaningful, make it emotional, make it flavour-enhancing…as longs as it’s unique and builds your brand.
Is a ritual right for your brand? Here’s a checklist for creating a brand ritual, and one that you can use to determine if a brand ritual will help you to build a brand:
- The brand ritual must work WITH the brand. The brand ritual can’t be so far removed from the purpose of your product that it seems entirely unrelated. Twisting and licking an Oreo, and then dunking it in milk, makes perfect sense; it’s delicious that way. One of the best ways to come to the right conclusion here is to watch your ideal customers. How do they normally interact with your brand (and brands like yours)? What comes naturally to them? Take this into consideration and your ritual is more likely to stick. Remember that people will not adopt the ritual because your brand ‘says so.’ They will adopt it because they feel some ownership in it.
- The brand ritual should be simple. One important rule in branding and marketing: Keep it Simple. This goes for every facet of your brand. Ask your customers to jump through hoops in order to take part in a ritual, and they’ll back away from that hoop and move toward something less complicated. Focus on creating something that can easily become part of using your brand.
- The brand ritual should be unchanging. This should go without saying; it is, after all, a ritual. An overshadowing tenet of branding should always be consistency, and this is uber-important when it comes to developing and propagating a brand ritual. Create any kind of variation (that isn’t adopted by the entire brand), and you’ll leave room for perceptions of unreliability.
- The brand ritual does not need to be necessary to the enjoyment of the product. Your brand can be great without the ritual, yet, the ritual can be something that adds to the fun and/or fellowship that goes along with using the brand. If the ritual is necessary, well then, maybe it’s not a ritual after all…it’s more like product instructions, and that doesn’t count.
- The brand ritual should be something that is performed in public. This one is often overlooked, but it is oh-so-important. If you create a brand ritual that is designed to be performed only in the home, as opposed to with friends or in a public gathering space, well then, it may not catch on. In order for anything to become viral, it must be highly visible…by all the right people. Keep this in mind as you create your brand ritual, as well as the marketing that will be used to spread the word.
The amount of information surrounding the topic of brand rituals is vast—too much to cover here, in fact.
If you have questions about how to introduce and build a brand ritual, you’ll want to dig more deeply into the subject with a brand-building expert. You can get that by signing on to become a B.R.A.N.D. Accelerator, like the people pictured here, in our Master Your Message strategy session. Learn more here.