The Power of Brand Rituals

Recently, we were conducting ethnographies about restaurants. Interviews were in and around Atlanta. Moe’s Southwest Grill came up in a number of discussions. And each person that mentioned it also shouted, in the same tone of voice, “Welcome to Moe’s!” Moe’s signature greeting. Hence, Moe’s has a brand ritual.


What is a brand ritual? It’s a unique behavior, ceremony or habit that’s equated with a brand. It’s a way to provide a richer brand experience that helps provide differentiation. Think of breaking apart a triangular Toblerone bar or the “Twist, lick, dunk” of an Oreo cookie. These rituals provide us with a sense of familiarity, a sense of connection. We, as humans, internalize rituals. Picture yourself ordering at Starbucks—more than likely, you use “Starbucks-specific” language. You’ve embraced their ritual.


Some brand rituals are internally-focused, created to heighten employee excitement and commitment to the organization. We’ve all heard about the Home Depot and Walmart cheers. Disney gives cast members service pins related to their tenure with the company. At our company, we give personalized bobblehead dolls.


You get the point. So, as a marketer, it’s wise to explore elements of your brand that are or could be ritualized.


  • Can your product design incorporate a distinct element? Delicious Milk Soap, a New Zealand brand, plays up the realness of its ingredients by making soap interesting, playful and fun. People put these out for display in their homes and it gives consumers a new way to hold soap:

bar of soap on a stick like a popsicle


  • How might your packaging create further engagement with your brand? Check out this Sam loves Betty bug spray. The bottom is textured, providing additional sensory experience:

spray bottle of sam loves betty bug spray


  • How can your service go beyond the category norm?, the pet supply provider, randomly sends people free portraits of their pets. And upon placing a first order, consumers are sent a handwritten note thanking them for their business:


“There’s customer service, and then there’s After registering online, each of the pet supply startup’s 3 million customers gets a handwritten thank-you card in the mail. They’re also entered into a lottery to receive a surprise gift—an oil painting of their pet, one of 700 made each week by one of Chewy’s 200 full-time portrait artists. ‘We have an aggressive approach to customer acquisition and retention,’ says Chief Executive Officer Ryan Cohen. He’s understating it.”


Hopefully, this has inspired you to take a look at your organization and your brand in a new way. As always, we’re happy to meet with your team and work together to find the right brand rituals for your target audience.