Cultural branding has become increasingly popular in recent years as it can be a very effective way to claim a unique and relevant brand position and create a differentiated brand in the minds of consumers.
Culture can be defined as a set of beliefs, values, behaviors and social patterns that define a specific group of people at a specific point in time. There are different types of cultures, starting with the mainstream culture or cultures that captures the most typical, “normal”, and conventional beliefs, values and social patterns.
But each mainstream culture also typically has many sub-cultures that maintain some connections to the mainstream culture, while at the same time differentiating itself. For example, the growing culture of female motorcycle riders, still part of the broader motorcycle culture, has clearly differentiated itself from the larger group. Last but not least, there are countercultures that take an active stand against the mainstream (for example, the slow food culture in a world of fast food).
A brand can associate itself with the mainstream culture. “I am Canadian” from Molson Beer embraces the values and pride of being Canadian. Another example would be Dunkin’s “America Runs on Dunkin”. A brand can also associate itself with a subculture, for example, the “mommies” culture (P&G: proud sponsor of moms), the “music and fashion” culture (Puma, et al.)
Last but not least, a brand can associate itself with a counterculture—or even create this counterculture—by addressing and taking a stand against potential frustrations and tensions created by the mainstream culture. Examples would be Dove’s taking a stand against the mainstream beauty culture and its unrealistic beauty standards or the car manufacturer Mini’s taking a clear stand against the large gas-guzzling SUV mainstream culture when it launched in the US.
What are the relevant core beliefs, values, and behaviors that define this culture or sub-culture?
How can your brand claim or participate or cooperate with key insiders in this culture in a way that will make it look more appealing to the members of this culture?
How might people in the culture use your brand to communicate truths about themselves to others?
How can your brand distance itself from mainstream culture and create its own niche or become part of a sub-culture?
Is there an appealing sub-culture that your brand could become part of instead? Which beliefs, values, or behaviors could it attack?
What frustration or tension could your brand help relieve?
This post is an expert from the award-winning “Brand Positioning Workbook: A simple how-to guide to more compelling brand positioning, faster”.
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