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Q: Branding as a religion QUESTION 1 - more ideas are welcome! ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Branding as a religion QUESTION 1 - more ideas are welcome!
Category: Business and Money > Advertising and Marketing
Asked by: lindstrom-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 12 Dec 2003 04:46 PST
Expires: 11 Jan 2004 04:46 PST
Question ID: 286293
I'm looking for cases/examples of brands, which for some consumers has
turned into almost a religious belief. Take Apple, Harley Davison or
Manchester United as an example. All three brands have extremely
devoted fans, some even wearing tattoos. My questions is:

1. Cases where consumers are devoted to a brand as was it a religion?
(All brand cases except Apple cases are accepted). Each case should
describe the devotion and give examples of why or how this has turned
into a brand religion.

This is the first out of two inquires related to this topic - please
see QUESTION 2 if you are interested in answering more questions
related to this topic.

Good luck,

Subject: Re: Branding as a religion QUESTION 1 - more ideas are welcome!
Answered By: ragingacademic-ga on 12 Dec 2003 21:23 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Dear lindstrom,

Thanks for your question.  First, let me request that if any of the
following is unclear or if you require any further research ? please
don?t hesitate to ask me for a clarification.

You requested cases/examples of brands, which for some consumers have
turned into almost a religious belief.

I?ve noticed you had already received one previous response to this
question, an excellent reply written by easterangel, discussing the
brands mentioned in ?The Power of Cult Branding? ?

I will try and add substantially to what easterangel had already covered for you.

Another excellent book that discusses ?extreme? brands of the type you
are interested in is ?Radical Marketing? by Sam Hill and Glenn Rifkin.
 Hill and Rifkin profile the following brands ? The Grateful Dead,
Providian Financial, Harley Davidson, Iams, the NBA, Snap-on Tools,
Virgin, EMC, Harvard Business School and Boston Beer (Samuel Adams

Radical Marketing on

Some of Hill and Rifkin?s examples will be less relevant to you, but
let?s briefly preview the more interesting ones ?

*** Grateful Dead ***  Even though the band has been defunct for
years, the BRAND continues to grow ? ?A highly profitable, debt-free,
privately held 34-year-old company like Grateful Dead Productions,
still owned and run by the founders, is unusual in today?s dynamic
business environment.?  Grateful Dead fans have gone to the ends of
the earth to catch a mere glimpse of a band member, and some had
followed the band for years ? it wasn?t just a tattoo, the Grateful
Dead became their entire life.

The following search provides quite a bit of material ?


What about the NBA, or really any other major sports league?  I guess
you can extend that idea to quite a few professional sports teams,
just as you had mentioned Manchester United in your question.  Green
Bay Packer ?Cheeseheads? would constitute an excellent example. 
Stanford football is perhaps another brand that has grown into an
almost religious experience.

Here?s an interesting article that evokes ?Cheeseheads? as a brand ?

Hill and Rifkin cover the NBA phenomenon in chapter 7.

Snap-on Tools ? mechanics swear by Snap-on, and many auto mechanics
have developed lifelong relationships with their Snap-on sales
representatives.  Thousands and thousands of auto mechanics will
simply not buy/use a tool by any other company.  Perhaps they?re not
tattooing the company logo on their biceps, but Snap-on most
definitely occupies a significant part of their lives.

Here?s a link to an article by Glenn Rifkin in Booz - Allen &
Hamilton, Inc. advertising agency's Strategy & Business news ?
discusses Snap-on and some other, similar brands ? cached on Google ?

In the book, Snap-on is chapter 8.

Harvard B-School is another example of a brand that takes on an almost
religious role in people?s lives.  Harvard MBAs lives typically become
intricately linked with the school, their peers and other alumni once
they graduate ? again, they may not tattoo HBS on a shoulder or
something, but they sure will put down the HBS logo wherever it?ll

Speaking of HBS, here?s an article by Susan Fournier on ?The role of
brand?s in people?s lives? ?

Links to additional great articles on the subject are at the bottom of the page.

Harley Davidson is one of the most mentioned among brands to which
consumers are devoted ? but Corvette is another big one.

Here?s a great Christian Science Monitor article on how brands are
affecting our children ?

From this you should be able to extrapolate where brands are
going?mentions Barbie, which should probably be added to your list,
although most girls outgrow it by their early teens.  There?s a Barbie
museum in Palo Alto, California.

Here?s another good article, on the ?Devotion Cycle? ? more retail
focus than brand, but may have some interesting insights for you.

Here are some more books that may be of interest base on an analysis
using AmazonBrowser ?

?Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People?
by Marc Gobe

?How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market?
by Gerald Zaltman

I hope this response adequately addresses your request.  Please let me
know if you are in need of additional information concerning this


Search Strategy:

brands consumers devotion
"snap-on tools" brand devotion
"green bay packers" cheeseheads brand
"grateful dead" brand marketing
lindstrom-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Good work - I know this is a very hard one but you did come up with a
couple of interesting points. Thanks for your help...and by the way if
you happen to identify more stuff just email me and I'll pay you

All the best,

martin lindstrom

Subject: Re: Branding as a religion QUESTION 1 - more ideas are welcome!
From: bobbie7-ga on 13 Dec 2003 07:59 PST
Hello again Martin,
(It's me Bobbie7)

How about Hello Kitty?

Hello Kitty is a brand that consumers of all ages are devoted to and
it has achieved near cult-like status.

?Meet Hello Kitty: a billion-dollar Japanese cartoon character who
inspires implausible devotion among her east Asian followers.?$238

?As Hello Kitty is featuring strongly in our Great Asian Brands
survey, let's have a closer look at how strong this brand has become -
proof that you can brand anything.?

?Hello Kitty is an idea based on a cartoon character of a small cat
that looks kind and cute, with a button nose, two black dot-yes, six
whiskers, and a ribbon or flower in her hair?.

?Adored by many demographic segments of the market, Hello Kitty's main
target audience, as expected, is children, but Sanrio says it has now
successfully extended the brand to teenage women from above 20 years.
Hello Kitty has become an icon with global appeal. As the girls, who
first bought her when they were young, grow older, they nostalgically
buy Hello Kitty products as adults.?
Excerpted from Branding in Asia by Paul Temporal

Here is a picture of a person with a Hello Kitty Tattoo

HELLO KITTY: The Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar
Feline Phenomenon
by: Ken Belson & Brian Bremner, Wiley 2003

?Her moon-shaped face has been slapped on every imaginable product:
clothing and toys, of course, but also toasters, trashcans and, for a
while, automobiles. She has spawned TV shows and a newspaper, and has
become one of the most coveted images in the world.?


?By looking at Hello Kitty, the authors hope to show that Sanrio
stumbled onto one of the most ingenious formulas in the history of
modern branding. By sticking her cute face on practically everything,
Sanrio has created an entire commercial category where cute and
consumers converge, often in unexpected ways. Though Japan is Kitty?s
home, her brand power has allowed her to spread throughout Asia, and
more recently, to the U.S. and Europe.?

?How did a cartoon character so simple in design--a round head, button
nose, a red ribbon and no mouth--achieve near cult-like status
internationally as a fashion icon? Kitty?s designers at Sanrio in
Tokyo gave her a birthplace in London. She weighs the same as three
apples, likes to play in the forest, practice piano or bake. To
ordinary Japanese, these are associations with what they imagine to be
provincial English life. But to kids in Taiwan or Hong Kong, where
Kitty is all the rage, the fur ball is decidedly Japanese.?

Wallstraits Book Review

Hello Kitty's fame has risen to cult status. 
The Makoto Bank has launched Hello Kitty credit cards, cash cards and
account books.

?It appears that many people are entranced by Hello Kitty. But, as
strange as it may seem to outsiders, I'm not the most obsessed member
of this group. A girl who was working the cash register a while back
at the Eckerd Drugs on Guadalupe had a Hello Kitty tattoo prominently
located on an upper limb.?

Here?s another good article.

Let me know if this case is a good example for you.

Thanks again,
Subject: Re: Branding as a religion QUESTION 1 - more ideas are welcome!
From: lindstrom-ga on 13 Dec 2003 14:46 PST
Hi Bobbie7,
Once again you are spot on.
I've added a "official" request on the net for you.

Thanks for your help,

Subject: Re: Branding as a religion QUESTION 1 - more ideas are welcome!
From: bobbie7-ga on 13 Dec 2003 15:05 PST
Thanks Martin!

I posted my answer.


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