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How To Create Brand Rituals Through Story with Zain Raj

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About The Business of Story Podcast:

Welcome to the Business of Story podcast, where the world’s best storytellers from business, Hollywood, and beyond teach you how to use stories to communicate and connect with your customers. While technology has given us all global reach with our messages, it’s still the ancient bewitchery of storytelling that connects us with one another. You will learn from some of the brightest content creators, advertising creatives, authors, professors, makers, marketers, and brand raconteurs in the business. Within every show you will learn at least one actionable tip that will make your stories more engaging, and help you advance your personal or professional quest further, faster.

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A lot of great information about story telling. It is hard to pick one episode, they are all good!


I recently came across Park Howell's excellent podcast. I love how he weaves in his personal stories with the interviews of his guests. If you are involved with sales or marketing for your business definitely check out this show.


Today Park interviews the CEO of Shapiro+Raj, Zain Raj, to discuss the creation of brand rituals and how to form a lasting bond with a customer. Zain is also the author of the number one marketing and sales bestseller, “Brand Rituals”.

Today Park interviews the CEO of Shapiro+Raj, Zain Raj, to discuss the creation of brand rituals and how to form a lasting bond with a customer. Zain is also the author of the number one marketing and sales bestseller, “Brand Rituals”.

What is a ‘Brand Ritual’?

You put a lime in your Corona, you twist open your oreo, “Red Bull gives you wings”; a brand ritual is a highly personalized relationship that a brand forms with its most loyal customers through which nothing but the preferred brand will do. It is a symbiotic function that is so compelling between brand and customer that if their preferred brand is not available, the customer’s world, as Zain puts it “becomes dislocated”.

Craft Your Personal Experience

Consider a brand ritual that you may have folded into our own experience: Starbucks. The coffee king has perfected the “context of creating a custom, personal experience”. Your fix of a grande soy vanilla latte is different than my double cup venti with room for cream, says Zain. “By making it so uniquely yours and giving yourself the ability to feel that sense of being connected, of ‘I’ve done it the way I do it and nobody else does’,” you have the sense of ritual that empowers customer and brand alike.

A brand ritual fulfills a set of needs that are not only the rational or emotional needs that most brands attempt to fill, but the more subconscious needs that are built around the attachment. —@Zain_Raj

Align Your Values

BrandRituals 2If a ritual is a “highly bonded relationship”, it is based on a core set of corresponding values between consumer and brand. In a truly symbiotic brand relationship/ritual, the values of the customer are so closely aligned with the values and practices of the brand that the customer’s needs are filled and they don’t need to search any further for another potential brand.
“When you meet different people you become an acquaintance, a colleague, but the deeper relationship happens when you find that you share the same values.”

Building Ritual Through Story

Storytelling is one of the most integral aspects of establishing a ritual and making it personal. As Zain points out, “nothing brings emotion into a context of experience unless there is a narrative around it.” Storytelling is how any relationship gets built; it is how we discover and share our value set.

Without stories, you don’t have a depth of empathy that builds a context around the values people hold. Storytelling narratives are very, very powerful factors towards building deep, bonded relationships. —@Zain_Raj

That being said, brands must follow through. To ensure a sustainable relationship, a brand must live the life of the story they tell.

Your Consumer Is Not a Number, She’s Your Wife

Unfortunately, in the technology enhanced infrastructure we live in, many of the human interactions based on relationship, story, and value have been relegated to computers and algorithms which are obviously inadequate facsimiles of human interaction.
Thus, customers have become decimals in many brands’ eyes. When a customer is reduced to a number, the brand cannot adequately fulfill their needs and the ritual relationship is lost, customers are unhappy, and they seek other brands to fill their needs.
As Zain says, consider your customer as your wife: “She’s intelligent, she’s opinionated, she knows what she wants out of a product or service. Treat her with the respect she deserves, and you will have a life long customer.”

The deluge of data has not fulfilled its potential of actually making things easier, neither for the consumer nor for the marketer.  —@Zain_Raj

The Future of Branding: ‘The Insight Economy’

How does Zain see the future of branding? As a “world where we understand our customers not as numbers, not as things, not as people who will buy my stuff, but as human beings… [a world] where brands exist to serve [the customers’] needs in the most distinct manner by solving real problems that they have in a way that’s empathetic, that’s authentic, and to do it so that brands are a resource in their lives versus something else that the customer needs to worry about.”

We are human beings, first and foremost. We’re not numbers. And as human beings, we have very specific needs that we’re looking for very specific brands or products or services to help solve in very specific ways. —@Zain_Raj

By tuning into today’s conversation, you will have access to more excellent resources to tell your business’s story. You can find today’s hot tip by listening to our episode or by going to

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