Cultural Branding and Marketing


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Mass surveys, analytical tools, marketing tools, and statistics are all part of today’s marketing landscape. Even though these tools help advertise the product effectively, it is easy to overlook the most crucial component of marketing, which is, making your product personal and meaningful to the buyer.

“What is there to be concerned about when my product is doing well enough?” you might argue. Well, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. What works today, however, may not work tomorrow. 

We’ve learned the hard way that consumer loyalty has faded, so if you want your product to stay in the public eye, you can’t just gratify them once and expect it to turn your company into a household name.

Customers are humans, and humans tend to respond to genuinity. So, to promote a humane way of advertising, experts came up with a term called Cultural branding. This concept captures the cultural aspects of the society and fine-tunes products and services accordingly.

Unlike conventional marketing that has become a two-dimensional dashboard study, cultural marketing views society at a macro level. The demand and supply among the customers are mapped by the societal changes that are currently happening.

This is observed in the marketing campaigns of many successful brands. For instance, consider Nike; it has ousted its rivals like Reebok and Adidas solely through its marketing strategy. Although the products and services were all similar, Nike pushed all the right buttons in the cognitive state of the consumer, making them believe that Nike is more advanced and better than its counterparts.

While conventional marketing can help you solve the popular problem, cultural marketing can help you establish a wider solution. To prove this point, consider top brands that rarely advertise. What is the difference between them and their counterparts in the same niche who invest a lot in advertising? Is it not the personal interest a customer has towards that brand?

How then can you imbibe such a connection between your brand and the consumer?

Cultural branding!

Cultural branding is a result of extensive study of anthropology, ethnology, sociology, and cultural history. This might sound funny since none of those terms are usually associated with business. But in the world right now, a narrow perspective only goes so far.

As it is, with increasing globalization, the impact of culture on brands is apparent than ever. So, how do you come on top of this disruptive trend?

Sell the idea, not the product!

Consider your favorite commercial and attempt to recollect it. “This is a toothpaste, buy it. It’s great for brushing your teeth and keeping them cavity-free.” it most likely did not say that. It probably said something like “toothpaste for healthy gums and teeth” or “one shade brighter teeth in one week.” 

So, is it the product or the idea that the brand is selling?

Customers need to love the idea for them to believe in the utility of your product. It doesn’t even have to be ‘belief’; if the product is novel, consumers may try it just to see what it’s about. Do not underestimate the power of intrigue.

Consider, coco-cola, before it was known for its sugary refreshment, it was known for its ‘American’ culture. During world war 2 and the cold war, countries called it the ‘bottled America’, and by the end of the war, it was as if coco-cola breached nationalities and spread American ideals. This is called marketing an idea.

This is possible only through cultural branding. When you can take local culture and associate it with a wider, diverse audience, you know you’ve built a successful brand. Brands like coco-cola and Harley Davidson are living testaments of this concept.

Now, you might be skeptical and say that maybe this applies only to big brands. You could not be more wrong. In fact, big brands find it hard to make a single product applicable to a global audience. This is why cultural branding is much easier to adopt for SMEs and startups. 

Also, culture is one of those things that can’t be taught. So, you don’t find university courses on cultural marketing as you would on digital marketing. So, the right training for this job is just by experimenting and practical learning.

Another technical aspect of cultural branding is that it is complicated. In hopes of relating your product to one culture, you might step on the toes of another one. No one wants that to happen. Given its contextual and nuanced nature, it is undeniably a tough nut to crack.

The inception, however, starts with research. Using research tools to study and interpret societal changes and social sciences is the way to unravel insights for cultural branding.

A cultural marketing campaign must always keep evolving. It is never done; as long as there is something new in the world, and there always is. So, as a brand, you need to keep rethinking, reevaluating, and reinventing yourself.

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