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For as long as there have been humans there have been rituals. Rituals span from the casual to the formal and are woven into all aspects of life.
We are all familiar with the large-scale, mass participatory rituals – the most well known examples of these emanate from religion. But, rituals can also be small scale and personal – reading the same newspaper everyday at the same time, grabbing a coffee from the same Starbucks on the way to work. Humans are creatures of habit – and as such we love rituals. They are comforting and predictable. They are routines that help move us from one place to another.
Brands are no strangers to the power of rituals, and over the decades a significant number of brand rituals have emerged.
Some are introduced top down by the brand. The Guinness pouring ritual is a great example of how a brand can create and disseminate a ritual effectively. The 2-part pour is now an essential element of the Guinness brand experience – drinkers would never accept a Guinness poured in any other way. It elevates the brand above all others by ensuring the ritual sticks firmly in the mind. It succeeds because it appears to be there for a genuine reason. It’s not a gimmick or a marketing fad – it exists because it really does improve the quality of the product.
Other brand rituals develop organically – growing upward from the consumer base. Stories abound regarding the origins of the Corona lime ritual. Some say it’s a Mexican habit to repel insects, while others maintain it was introduced to filter out bacteria. The truth is, in 1981 a Californian bartender was curious to see if it would catch on – and it did. Corona and lime was never part of the brands marketing plan but it was embraced when it emerged. Again, the ritual succeeded because it exists for a genuine reason – it provides a more rewarding taste for the drinker.
So, whether from top down or bottom up, a successful ritual can help a brand differentiate itself from its competitors, can foster a deeper engagement between a brand and consumer, and can help a brand really stick in the mind. But, to achieve success and longevity – it has to be there for a genuine reason.