What is a brand ritual?

Brands that Matter S1E2 (Wide)

How to build a brand that matters (S01 E02) Brands that Matter is a multi-part video series that turns aspects of Barkley’s modern consumer model of brand-building (WHOLE BRAND THINKING™) into actionable insights for the viewer: Whole Brand How-Tos. These practical guides help c-suite execs and marketers tackle specific pieces of building whole brands with case studies to back them up. Our latest video is “What is a brand ritual?” featuring a Q+A with Katy Hornaday, Chief Creative Officer, and Chris Cardetti, Chief Strategy Officer. Looking to build your own whole brand? Our team can audit your current environment and make recommendations on the next steps. Contact Jason Parks, Chief Growth Officer, at jparks@barkleyus.com. To stay up-to-date with modern consumers and WHOLE BRAND THINKING™ sign up for our Whole Brand Briefing email at newsletter.barkleyus.com.

The following is a conversation between Barkley's Chief Creative Officer, Katy Hornaday, and Chris Cardetti, chief strategy officer. The topic: What is a brand ritual?

Chris Cardetti: Hey, everybody. Chris Cardetti, chief strategy officer here at Barkley.

Katy Hornaday: Katy Hornaday, chief creative officer at Barkley.

Chris Cardetti: So Katy and I love to talk about brand rituals. We love to find them in brands, and we love to create them. So Katy, so what is a brand ritual?

Katy Hornaday: So a brand ritual is really something that a brand does time and time again that their fans and followers can come to love them for. It may be a day. It may be a part of the experience.

Chris Cardetti: But it's also shareable. And we want the brand rituals that happen for our brands to be shareable, to be commented on, to be put out there as part of someone's story.

Katy Hornaday: And we think that, really, they are key to building a whole brand because it really requires both this left side of the spectrum, that internal workforce, the underpinnings of your business to walk hand in hand with the right side of the spectrum, the communication, and the advertising aspect.

Chris Cardetti: One that happens every single time. When you go into a Dairy Queen and you buy a Blizzard, you'll get that Blizzard flipped upside down. Now you might think, oh, that makes me happy. It creates a little joy in my life. But it actually is a very important part of their business as well.

Katy Hornaday: And other times, it can be something that happens every year. So, for example, one of my favorite examples is when we were working with Wingstop. We discovered that if you looked at the tweets, 22,000 times a year the words weed and Wingstop would show up in a Tweet together. And we really went to the client and said, "That consumer is inviting you into a ritual that they already have," which we defined as 420. So every year on April 20th, we created some piece of communication, some activation that really helped our consumers celebrate that day.

Chris Cardetti: So one of our clients, Planet Fitness, has Pizza Mondays. Now you would think, why the hell would a gym have pizza for its members? And what it does, it communicates a ton for what Planet Fitness stands for. They stand for inclusiveness and being the realistic version of fitness. And so, they give their members pizza sometimes on Mondays because that's who they are.

Katy Hornaday: And then the other thing that we did for PF was we created this idea of Did It! stickers. It seems so simple. It's this little bitty ritual in order to allow their gym goers to just feel accomplished for straight-up showing up, and it became something that they could take on their way out. The front desk staff would hand it to them, and then they might put them in their journal, or they might stick them on their water bottle, and they were able to take pictures and share out the fact that they just Did It, which was so in line with who PF is as a brand. And it was this little moment that they could use to communicate that.

Chris Cardetti: Yeah. Now, you're thinking it's a nice to have for our brand, but we really see it as a must-have. So it does a ton of things. It is important for driving loyalty and satisfaction. The Did It! stickers actually increased in NPS and feeling supported by staff at Planet Fitness. The brand rituals are just this great connector from the inside of the organization to the external, outside-facing stance of the organization.

Katy Hornaday: We can't do Did It! stickers unless our front desk staff understands what that means for their brand. We can't do upside-down Blizzards unless the employee who's making a Blizzard understands that that really brings their red thread to life in a special and unique way.

Chris Cardetti: All right, so here's how to get started if you're a brand looking to become more whole and looking for brand rituals.

Number one, do I want to have brand rituals? They oftentimes cross over from operations to communication, so they are a commitment.

Number two, do I have brand rituals already that just need to be elevated up? Is there something in the brand that's happening at a small scale that you can just amplify?

So yeah, the third question is, where in the journey could we help, create a little joy, create a little happiness, or become a part of their story and their life?

Katy Hornaday: And I would add a fourth, which is, if you're looking for a brand ritual, take a look at your whole year as a brand, and are there moments where you lack something for consumers to celebrate with you? And then really dig and try to discover something that they may be able to rally around. We love to see momentum in a brand throughout the entire year, and sometimes those silent spaces are good invitations for creating something new.

Chris Cardetti: Yeah.

Katy Hornaday: You just gave that little plant a nudge.

Hang on. Hang on.

Chris Cardetti: Well, it's kind of pointed at me.

Katy Hornaday: There.

Chris Cardetti: Like a dagger into my arm.

Katy Hornaday: Well, let's try that again. Try it again.

Chris Cardetti: Okay.

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