As in religion, trust and evangelism are critical in making a powerful brand, according to Martin Lindstrom, founder of branding consulting firm Lindstrom Company. 

“If you are a strong believer of a brand, the same region of the brain is activated as if you are a strong believer in faith,” said Mr. Lindstrom in a recent webinar organized by Adobe Commerce, a digital commerce platform.   

Next to trust and evangelism, are the “essential” (a clear purpose, storytelling, and symbols); the “necessary” (a sense of belonging, sensory appeal, and authenticity); and the “desirable” (rituals and grandeur).  

A 2016 study published in Social Neuroscience found that religious experience was associated with brain activation in areas commonly associated with reward: the nucleus accumbens, frontal attentional, and ventromedial prefrontal cortical loci.  

“Our craving spot is the nucleus accumbens,” Mr. Lindstrom said. A study his company conducted on smokers, he added, found that this part of the brain lit up whenever a smoker thought of the cigarette brand Marlboro or any of its related images.  

Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort in the United Arab Emirates, is as an example of a brand whose ads are driven by a sense of purpose. Lindstrom Company found that it was a dream of Dubai residents to create a snow angel, hence the marketing tag, “Snowflakes that make every day ordinary.”  

Sensory appeal likewise plays a role in how people buy. Most don’t like the taste of their first beer, Mr. Lindstrom said, but the desire to be an adult is so high that people continue to imbibe the beverage until they end up developing a taste for it.  

Citing a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin — “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Mr. Lindstrom advised involving people in order to create rosy memories associated with a brand.  

“A sense of belonging is almost like a religion, which is based on storytelling,” he said, while warning against the use of “hard core” religious symbols in branding since people have differing opinions about faith. — Patricia B. Mirasol