Beliefs, Love, Branding




Once upon a time, I worked in an office with an extremely short-fused colleague. Instead of thinking for himself, he tended to ask questions out aloud. Does someone know why? Does anybody know what? Where is ... anyway? And if anybody could actually be bothered to reply, there was one pitfall you had to avoid at all costs: beginning your answer by saying: "I believe that ..." Because even before you finished your sentence, the guy would bark: "Believing is what you do in church, I need to know for sure!"

Meanwhile, I'm in the happy position of working with people who do think for themselves and communicate in a polite manner. Still, looking back, I admit there is some sense to what my former colleague used to say. Believing is called believing because it isn't the same as knowing. With respect to human beliefs I endorse freedom of thought and am opposed to opinions that pretend to be universally valid.

Believing is something individual and personal, each and every single person's own private business. And, therefore, not worth fighting about. Besides, believing – be in in God, spiritual kinship, family or work – is extremely important to all of us. Our beliefs gives us a sense of belonging, orientation, and hope. In fact, if you don’t mind me saying so, exactly what a strong brand does too. Possibly that's why certain people believe in brands like Apple or Louis Vuitton almost as much as others do in their religion.

And while we're on the topic: let's take a look at the Catholic Church. Although the church probably doesn't consider itself to be a brand, from a branding point of view, it's actually one of the strongest brands in existence. Almost impossible to think of another brand that gets it right on so many counts. Not only does the church maintain a very consistent brand world, it also appeals to all of our senses, making it tangible, vital and come alive. A very important, possibly even the most significant aspect in branding. Our senses are our interface with the outside world and transmit the impressions they receive inward, creating sensations and feelings. The more of our senses a brand activates, the more we internalize it. In the Catholic Church's case, hymns, organ music and church bells cater to our auditory sense. Visually, the eye is fed with images of monumental cathedrals with brightly stained-glass windows, not to mention the omnipresent crucifixes. And the scent of incense tickles our nostrils. Equally commendable is the way the Catholic Church has been preaching the same values for decades, reiterating the same topics and presenting an identical appearance at all points of contact. Admirably consistent and in all likelihood unique on such a scale!
Yet recently a new trend in branding is making itself felt: The true crux in brand management nowadays is increasingly that of finding a balance between the identity and the market-oriented approach. Ideally, a strong brand (e.g. Catholic Church) commands core values that are not influenced by the market. Values which remain constant in the long term thereby creating identification. The passing of time, however, inevitably brings changes with it. And it is a fact of life that these trends are seldom foreseeable. Today, the really strong brand is the one that adapts to latter-day demands without compromising its core values or falling prey to short-lived fads.

This is not just a difficult challenge for global top brands to master; the "Catholic Church" brand is equally affected. It will be interesting to see how the church deals with the issue – or whether it manages to remain unaffected by this development, thereby indicating to branding experts that religions and brands do tick differently after all. Either way, be it in branding or in real life: one does not have to believe everything, nor can one ever know everything. However, learning something new is always worthwhile.


This article appeared in PUNKTMagazin. The Swiss magazine combines economics, investment and lifestyle and is published every two months. Branders CEO René Allemann writes a column for the publication. You'll find more information on PUNKTMagazin here:

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René Allemann

René Allemann

Born in Zurich, René Allemann founded the consulting firm Branders in 2005. With 20 employees, the branding agency creates, maintains and manages brands. The Brander journal is published by the Branders Group.

The Brander is a publication of the Branders Group