Last week I wrote about equity and its importance to the survival of both the brand and the business. The Sears saga brings the need to understand the importance of both financial and brand equity in a compelling manner. If you missed that post, here is the link:
HOW A MISUNDERSTOOD TERM DESTROYED AN ICON. THE SAD STORY OF SEARS
In my best-selling book, Brand Rituals™, How Successful Brands Bond with Customers for Life, I made the case for why marketers need to go beyond their use of transactional marketing approaches to create an unbreakable bond with their most loyal customers – a bond I call a Brand Ritual. It is a deep, abiding relationship that customers build with brands that becomes an integral part of their lives.
What I want to discuss this week is the importance of societal cultural rituals in building equity for the brand and consequently for its business. In our culture, few months can compete with the ritual clout of February. This month has two events that are huge and undeniable cultural rituals for all of us: The Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day.
The Super Bowl is a singular populist spectacle that melds the heights of competitive and consumer cultures. To most, it seems a uniquely modern phenomenon. But that’s not the case! This spectacle was invented by the Greeks and the Romans. If you saw Gladiator (with the amazing Russell Crowe), you know about the gladiatorial battles in Rome. The physical violence and celebration of the Super Bowl goes back as far as hundreds of years before Christ. Screens can bring this spectacle right into our living room, where the screaming throngs in togas have been replaced by friends and family chomping on pizza and wearing jerseys emblazoned with “their” team name. When brands interject themselves into this scene, they’re not just doing it to capture the eyeballs of the millions of viewers that the contest brings in each year. They are trading not only in exposure (a vital part of building rituals), but in the stories that we build during the ritual – our favorite team, our favorite pizza, our ideas of our champion and their adversary, and, who supported who during the multi-hour odyssey.
The other element we sometimes ignore in developing a Brand Ritual – making new or deepening existing connections. This is not just exemplified by the parties we hold/attend during the Super Bowl, but by February’s other occasion: Valentine’s Day.
Who’s important enough to be your Valentine? Have you ordered the right flowers, found the right card (thanks to Hallmark and American Greetings), found the right restaurant… have you made this day as perfect as it can be for the important person in your life?
What a transition! From screaming at each physical play to reframing into a gentle and romantic one-on-one experience… that’s what makes the rituals in February so cool. The change in context makes each experience so different.
Brands that understand that context defines and drives consumer behavior – the reason(s) that result in a ritual for their brand – can trade on these insights successfully. They become inextricably linked with their customer from the occasion: the little blue box from Tiffany’s for Valentine’s Day to the right pizza for Super Bowl.
Brands that fail to understand this simple truth will be the ones that wonder… what could have been?