Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Era of the Religious Brand

Korea has the first academic with a doctorate in matters dealing with the brand names of commercial products, the study and theory behind them and what leads to making them well-known.  His work on brands, how best to develop them into household names, has helped industries to prosper; for his efforts, in 2001, he received a presidential prize.

His recent book The Era of the Religious Brand, reviewed by the Catholic Times, gave Catholicism high marks compared to the other religious brands and he explained why it received such a favorable rating. He compared Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Protestantism, according to five evaluation factors: growth, world distribution, stability, identity and activity.

According to this criterion, Catholicism in its spread throughout the world received 25 points, growth 22.5 points, stability 18.6 points, identity 12 points, and activity 13.7 points, with a total score of 91.8--100 being the perfect score.  The author attributes the good showing to the unity, holiness, universality and the manner of its beginning with the Apostles being sent out to spread the gospel. (Islam came next with 84.6, Hinduism 78, Buddhism 66.7, Protestantism 65.9 and Judaism 56.6 points.)

The author, Dr. Kim, points out that gathering information for this study was a very difficult undertaking, since he had nothing to work with. He had to travel both within and outside the country, read many books and meet with specialists in the different religions to come up with his assessments of the various religious brands. Because "brand" is not a word commonly used with religions and is closely connected with the commercial world, he did have qualms about how it would be received.

He hopes that what he has written will enable others to see the scientific reasons for the listing of Catholicism as the number one religious brand. This of course has nothing to do with whether a religion should be considered as having more truth than any other. It is only an external evaluation of religions according to the five different categories the author has selected. It does show, though, that the criteria selected can be successfully used not only to judge a commercial product but to assess how people view the various religions.

The result of this study is no surprise for those who have an interest in religion.  Catholicism is the  world's oldest multinational organization and also the most successful, with over a billion members, millions of employees and volunteers. However, Catholics know this is not the criterion that the founder will use to judge the community of faith that he began. The externals are not what will endear the Church to its founder.

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