Brand Sacrality

  • Arthur Asa Berger


Taking a cue from the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, who wrote about the contrast between the sacred and the profane in religious thoughts, I compare brands and religions and suggest there are a number of similarities between the two and that brands can be seen as functional alternatives to religions. I then discuss the Apple Corporation and its logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it, which calls to mind the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This leads to a discussion of the sacred nature of department stores, which I suggest are functional alternatives to cathedrals, and to discussion of religions as brands and brands as religions. Changing brands of smartphones from Android to Apple is, I suggest, similar to being converted to a new religion. I conclude with a comparison of Harley-Davidson rallies and religious festivals, which reinforce the attachment of attendees to their consumer cults.


Durkheim Sacred Profane Functional alternatives Conversion 


  1. Calvin, John. Quoted in David van Tassel and Robert W. McAharen, (Eds.). 1969. European Origins of American Thought. Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  2. Durkheim, Emile. (1965). The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. New York: Free Press. (Originally published in 1915.)Google Scholar
  3. Eliade, Mircea. (1961). The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (W.R. Trask, Trans.) New York: Harper & Row. (Originally published in 1957.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Asa Berger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication ArtsSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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