Pillars of a Brand: building a brand needs more than just a quality product

In a popular book called Buy-o-logy by Martin Lindstrom, he mentions ten pillars which form the basis of every successful religion and how a brand needs to demonstrate the same to gain consumer loyalty. I would like to revert back to those pillars and show its importance in building a sticky brand in today’s social media dominated digital world. Also, I do get rid of some of the original pillars mentioned by Lindstrom which are not relevant in today’s world.

1. Sense of belonging (provide identity cues) – Consumers are willing to pay a premium for a brand not just because it provides great quality or service, but because it provides a strong social experience (refer to article for more info on this). This social experience comes from ones desire to belong to a group, it provides a sense of identity (it help define who we are)

The reason this pillar is so important is increasing amount of noise we are surrounded by – rising globalization and weakening sense of nationality, increase social networks (online friends) and decreasing actual physical relationships, decreasing importance of religion. In such circumstances, strong brands help fill a void, it provides identity markers which helps us define who we are.

2. A clear vision – with increasing information mobility and rising consumer participation in dialogues (both with other consumers and companies), it is important that brands clearly define what they stand for. It helps consumer internalize that message and build a relationship with the brands ideologies and goals.

When brands fail to do this, they end up like Yahoo. An amazing company, but no solid vision.

3. Power over enemies (Competitors) – Having enemies/ competitors is not always a bad thing. Its actually very essential in order to build a strong brand from a product (think of any sports team). Having an identifiable enemy gives the consumers a chance to articulate and showcase their faith, but more importantly, it helps them unite with our fellow believers. We have seen the rising Middle East protests, how powerful people can be when they unite. Therefore, if brands don’t have some identifiable enemy, the followers don’t have a compulsive reason to become strong brand advocates.

4. Sensory appeal – humans have an innate need for sensory stimulus (refer to article for more info on this). Brands need to influence consumer’s sense of sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch in ways that it differentiates them from their competitors. With the rising use of technology in today’s world, brands can creatively stimulate all these senses.

5. Storytelling – every religion has stories. It maybe Christianity, Islam or Hinduism, they are all build on very detailed stories. However, the important part is to understand how these stories spread across the masses and take a life of its own. Till few decades ago, word of mouth was the only way to communicate. But, we have seen an explosion in the speed with which these stories spread with the discovery of print medium (newspaper, books, etc.). Today, the stories are just a click away on our mobile phones. It hardly takes a day for a Youtube video to reach million of people and go viral.  Therefore, in such exciting times, brands can be build their stories “on the go”, but what’s important is to have an underlying theme and a strategy.

Martin Lindstorm talks about a few other pillars that a brand should have – Symbols, Mystery, Rituals. I agree with the importance of these pillars and have covered them in my previous blog articles. These are often outcome of the above mentioned pillars and are often unintentional. Consumers overtime bestow these upon a brand and they tend to stick for the brands lifetime. However, I do take out 2 of the original 10 pillars – grandeur and evangelism. Grandeur is not relevant because in today’s world something’s are better communicated without making it too loud. Brands can be very successful by building strong relationship with the consumer and following the above 8 aspects of brand building. Evangelism should be removed because I do not think it has any relevance in terms of building an effective brand.

Overall, in today’s technology savvy world, where word spreads like wild fire, brands need to work with the consumers to build, grow and sustain. Otherwise, they would be laid to rest besides many in the brand graveyard!!



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Content Writer

With a background in consumer research and psychology, Atul has a passion for anything dealing with human behavior. Evolutionary theorist at heart, he likes to examine consumers from a survival point of view.



About Teddy
With a background in consumer research and psychology, Atul has a passion for anything dealing with human behavior. Evolutionary theorist at heart, he likes to examine consumers from a survival point of view.

2 Comments on Pillars of a Brand: building a brand needs more than just a quality product

  1. While these factors do determine the longevity of a brand in the market today, I also feel another important factor that may have a take on a brand being sticky is it’s adaptability. How a brand can adapt to consumer tastes in different markets based on cultures, rituals and ideas will determine how global the brand is. Some good examples would be McDonald’s or Nike.

  2. Informative post! I think Google is a great example of this; storytelling has become a focus for them (remember those search and now Chrome videos?) and they’ve done a wonderful job of creating a need to “belong” with sending limited invites to their programs. It would be cool if you could choose a company and pick it apart to show how it fits all the pillars. Keep it up! :)

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