• Élcio Chiquinato

    Brands will never replace God.
    Religion is another thing… you can start any type of religion because all of them are man made. The deep truth and peace in the spirit will never be fulfilled with logos, brands, messages, events, etc. Brands can just create a temporary sensation and that’s why brands are dependent and need consistently to communicate. They just touch lightly on people because they can’t change someone deeply as the One. Humans can’t create or fill the Invisible.
    Brands create Illusions/Sensations to sell their products so how can someone be fulfilled with them? You can experience something good and feel good emotionally but it doesn’t totally feel that part of the body that is waiting for that little thing that deeply fill people with an indescribable love that drives each of us till we die, with confidence and peace, wherever we are. Why many people with a lot of money are poor and lot of people that you perceive as poor are millionaires and have a smile you can’t buy in any window shop? Ask them and you will find the truth.

    Don’t believe me? Well wait till you get really old and let me know about it.

    • Chuck Kent

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I particularly appreciate your distinction between God and religion. As I say in the article, I find the suggestion that people try to find transcendent meaning in brands discouraging.. and as I don’t personally think brands can deliver what people look for in either God or religion, they and their consumers would be better served if they didn’t overreach, and stuck to what good things they can honestly – if less universally – provide.

      • Élcio Chiquinato

        Hi Chuck,

        Thank you for the post. It’s always interesting to see how the world is spinning.
        This project (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGn0kmII1B0) is truly useful and uses a brand as a vehicle to reach people you couldn’t reach before if you tried the normal way – amazing.

        Take care,

        • Chuck Kent

          Brands can do social good, certainly, and I think it’s best done, as in this Coke project, with a relatively soft touch, again, not overreaching to claim deeper meaning, but working to demonstrate at least a deeper-than-just-business commitment

          • Élcio Chiquinato

            This is not a Coke project – Most of the brands have small hearts regarding taking care action – most of them focus on claiming :)
            Check the project at http://www.colalife.org/

            “Coca-Cola seems to get everywhere in developing countries, yet essential medicines don’t. Why?”

            Good question!

  • Remington Tonar

    Chuck, as I mentioned on Twitter, I think we need to carefully define what we mean when we use terms like “religion,” “meaning,” and even “brand” at the outset of these conversations. As a theologian turned brand strategist, I find the simplicity and hastiness with which we often use these terms disconcerting – although you did a solid job in this piece of bringing together a diverse cluster of perspectives. Rabbi Shevack’s voice was particularly welcome. Unfortunately, even oft cited publications on the topic, like the Cutright, Erdem, et al. paper that you reference, often fail to establish an a priori social theory that underpins their perspective and conclusions. There are, obviously, many ways of defining what we mean by religion and god and brand and meaning, and how we define these terms largely determines how we answer the question “will brands replace religion in the search for meaning.” Certainly the title of this article is reminiscent of title of the seminal work of noted 20th century psychologist Viktor Frankl, whose clinical philosophy represented a powerful challenge to the Freudian and Adlerian views of his day – and, indeed, students of Frankl, Freud, and Adler would all view the relationship between brands and religion differently. Rabbi’s Shevack’s POV definitely demonstrates a particular existential philosophy. Similarly, to pick up on a previous comment, distinctions may exist between religion and god, however, whether or not one agrees very much depends on their existential worldview. If religion is nothing more than a systematized social construction, then yes, brands can replace them since brand cultures (see consumer culture theory) are themselves nothing more than systematized social constructions. However, if religion is a manifestation of humanity’s encounter with mystery, then something as tangible as a brand might have difficulty replacing religion. Or, if in one’s theology, religion is vital in the salvation economy of a personal god, then brands would never be able to replace religion since a brand has no soteriological efficacy. Point being, the premises from which one begins very much determine where one comes out on this question, and so I think it’s incumbent upon us to ponder what these terms mean – even if no common understanding can be reached – before diving headfirst into the question itself, because it is such a fascinating and important question.

    • Chuck Kent

      Tonar, Sorry to be so long responding to your fascinating comment – and my basic response is, you should turn that comment into an article (I would, however, go light on “soteriological efficacy,” etcetera, unless you want to lose everybody in the branding crowd, save perhaps Rabbi Shevack (who you should get connect with IRL.. DM me on Twitter if you’d like an introduction).