Some Experience Religion and Brand Loyalty in Same Brain Region

A recent study by scientists in the United Kingdom and showcased in a recent documentary airing on the BBC suggests that those who are dedicated to using Apple have the same portions of their brains excited by the brand name as those who are stimulated by religious imagery.  The discovery parallels other discoveries made of the way humans interact and tend to look upon certain concepts as ideals that are almost religious in nature.  But if brand loyalty can spur the same brain centers to action as religion, is that a statement more about religion or the brands themselves?  Or does it more illustrate both points when we look back on ourselves?

When people say you’re a religious car brand buyer they may not be far off.  When you think of a certain brand and deny its competitors your business you may be actually responding to the same imagery intended for those who are to undergo a spiritual journey.  Only in the case of brand loyalty the intention isn’t your action or your soul, but rather your pocketbook – which some would suggest is a 21st century corporation’s real interest.  And yet regardless, the imagery is very similar.  The documentary further illustrates that these images are connected to what are known as “super brands.”  These brands, such as Apple, go far beyond the world of simple computer purchasing to create devotees who respond to using anything else as “blasphemy” – a tongue in cheek term of course”¦ at least for now.

So why are our interpretations of certain brand names similar to religion?  Is religion a philosophical sort of brand loyalty?  The answer is a bit more disturbing in this case.  Large corporations have harnessed the Jungian principles of human understanding and communication and begun using them to create images that respond to an ideal more than a simple product.  It’s no coincidence that trendy gadgets are unveiled in relation to many different corporations in massive auditoriums where the priests or acolytes of the product come forward like messiahs promising a major change to the lives of those assembled using terms intended to give the impression that everything on Earth will now be different – but only to those who stick to the brand name and spread its good name.  These assemblies can take on a very serious and almost religious tone at times.

So what does this mean for our society?  Organized religion, while still a long lasting mainstay in the western world, is still reeling from several scandals and other things to shake the faith of those involved.  And so with psychologists tapping into the meaning of religion, many corporations are beginning to understand that promising a new way of being critically derived from the possession of gadgets eerily similar to the ones before when looked at objectively are attempting to fill the gap with their own way of life.  And while it may sound ridiculous to the devotees of these religions, these devices beyond all their fanfare are still fairly similar to the ones before them.  Though they may have more space, have more features, and be that much more convenient to use, the truth is many of them have been called revolutionary under highly dubious circumstances.

And while Apple may create a product you like, the word magic employed in the description of its devices may not be so accurate when we consider the real magic in our world.

And if the idea of Apple being viewed as a religion seems a bit far fetched to you, consider the story run this week on the BBC of a teenager in China who sold one of his kidneys to pay for an iPad.