In by 8brand

There are two main branding models that exist today, but within the digital era these branding models has not been as effective as they were before.

These two models include: Mindshare Branding, which focuses on the emotions and the personality of the brand, as well as purpose branding, which focuses on the values and the ideals of the consumers.

With the digital era we have seen a dramatic increase in the power of consumers. They want to do new things as different kinds of information are communicated in a way that creates value for them. Consumers today expect data to be stored about them in order for marketing to be targeted at their precise needs and ultimately they are just expecting all interactions to be easy.

A new branding model had to be introduced, and that is why the focus is now shifting to Cultural Branding, which has become even more relevant in an era that is being dominated by social media. With traditional content marketing brands focused on telling stories to consumers in real time.

Traditional types of branded content and sponsorships used to work, but not so much in the digital age where consumers have the option to opt out of advertising and are exposed to various other types of entertaining. Billions have been spent on these strategies but over time consumers stopped responding.

In order for brands to survive in the digital world we live in there are a few aspects thats needs to be addressed. Brands need to be culturally relevant; they succeed when they break through cultural barriers. The digital era has changed how culture works.

Cultural influences happen a lot faster and are more widespread because, because of the fact that there are no more physical boundaries. Digital crowds (crowdculture) are now the innovators of culture, and if brands understand the crowdculture they will come to know why traditional branded content strategies do not work in the digital era.

Crowdcultures an be divided into two groups namely : subcultures and art worlds. The Subcultures develop new ideologies and processes, while the Art World is breaking new ground in entertainment. Subcultures can form around any topic or interest, as there are no physical boundaries. Art Worlds are groups of writers, filmmakers, musicians, etc. who work together in a framework of collaborative competition. Crowdculture have helped expand these Art Worlds; there are more participants with faster and easier interaction as well as easier distribution.

This means that they can get instant feedback on their innovations and then tailor them to what it is that the consumers wants.

Leo Bogart was well-known American sociologist, media and marketing expert and had some insightful views on the cultural branding phenomenon that so many brands are striving for,but so few actually achieve. He once said that, “The Great Idea in advertising if far more than just the sum of the recognition scores, the ratings and all the other superficial indicators of it’s success ; it is in the realm of myth, to which measurements cannot apply.”

Douglas B.Holt describes the myth of an iconic brand as being that aspect of the brand that helps resolves the contradictions of the consumer society. Iconic brands thus tell stories of people, who feel like they do not fit within the ideology of specific society, can relate with.
Keeping this in mind, it is not difficult to believe that only a few brands have actually achieved this iconic status. Nike, Apple, Coke, and Harley Davidson are some of the iconic bands that have succeeded in creating a sense of community through their products and services and can ultimately be defined as cultural brands. These brands have won competitive battles because they have formed a deep connection with culture.

The market power of these iconic brands, are based on customer value, something that we don’t often think about.Through these iconic brands people get to experience myths.

Iconic Brands do not just embody any type of myths, but myths people aspire to as they experience tension within the ideologies of the society they are part of. A national ideology might, for example, promote the idea of households with two parents. This however might not always be the case and this contradiction between what people actually experience and the ideology of the societies they find themselves in can and will ultimately fuel the demand for myths.

This demand for myths gives rise to what Holt calls “myth markets”. These markets can be seen as a widespread conversation in which various cultural brands compete to communicate the most compelling myth. Those brands that win the competition are the ones that become iconic brands.In conclusion, the iconic brands are the brands that focus on a relationship with a “rebel world”.Here Harley Davidson with its outlaw bikers can be seen as an example. The campaigns of Harley Davidson focused on and targeting consumers that did not relate to certain ideologies of society concerning what it entails to be a good citizen. Individuals with alternative views thus related to the Harley Davidson brand and stayed loyal to it over the years because of shared values and views.

Holt summarised his viewing by highlighting a few key points that brands have to keep in mind in order for them to truly become icons.Firstly, iconic brands target national contradictions, rather than consumer segments or psychographic types.They create a myth that solves these contradiction and lead culture. Iconic brands also speak in the voice of a rebel, which means that they understand the viewpoint of the rebels and can provide them with creative solutions.

Further more they also draw on political authority to rebuild a myth.In other words, they need to communicate with their target markets the fact that they are willing to speak up for them again and again, even with certain new ideologies becoming a reality. For this to be possible a brand must continue to develop end expand their cultural knowledge

A few examples can be mentioned in order to see the bigger picture. In the personal care category, a category that was previously perceived as a low involvement category, axe and Dove created a lot if interest and can be seen as cultural brands.In the 1990’s feminist critiques of patriarchal culture were in certain ways attacked by academics in the American universities. The latter started to mock what can be seen as politically correct gender politics. These ideologies held that men had to recapture their traditional masculinity, which gave rise to whats was known as the “lad-culture”.Magazines like FHM went back to the playboy era characterised by lwed stories and soft-porn images.Many young men related to this ideology and by the early 2000’s it spread on the web as a vital crowdculture.

” Traditional types of branded content and sponsorships used to work, but not so much in the digital age where consumers have the option to opt out of advertising…”

Axe was being marketed from as early as the 1980’s, but quickly became out dated, that is, however, until they jumped on the bandwagon of the “lad culture” ideology with the “axe Effect”.This campaign was a massive success, promoting these politically incorrect sexual fantasies.

Dove, on the other hand, focused on what can be seen as the “body-positive crowd”.By the 2000’s feminist critiques views of the so called “0 size model” were radically increasing and women all over the world were feeling much more alienated from traditional as well as social media marketing. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” targeted this emerging crowdculture by celebrating the physiques of women no matter their body or age, how curvy or wrinkly.
Women all over the world started sharing pictures different body types and cheered for those who did not conform to what society used to see as beautiful, the film’s stories were not necessarily very original, but they succeeded because they captured the ideology of a contradicting culture.A culture that formed around like minded people that place value on organic food products and more healthy ways of living.
Chipotle is another example of a cultural brand that started to contradict certain ideologies of the American society. By making use of the films they promoted the preindustrial food ideology.In the one film a traditional farm is transformed into an industrial farm where animals are injected with chemicals and pressed into cubes.The framer is ultimately haunted by these images and transforms the farm back to the original version. These films went viral on social media; created massive media hits and helped drive sales and profits.
Keeping the above in mind, it can be said that brands need to build a culture of nonconformity in order for them to become iconic. To balance out a strong culture you need to encourage critical opinions on a regular basis.Blackberry can be seen as an example here.After disrupting the smartphone industry they believed that consumer are only looking for efficient and secure emails. They did not pay much attention to the iPhone as a music player and a toy. They hired likeminded engineers that shared their views, but lacked the necessary marketing knowledge. They ultimately failed to develop a high quality, app friendly device and experienced a colossal collapse in market share.
A culture of nonconformity can be created in companies that prioritise organisational values. Values within an organisation need to be ranked in such a way that when employees are faced with difficult decisions they will immediately know what to do.Once the values have been prioritised, companies should keep scrutinising them and allow parties from outside the company to challenge the current ways of the company.Companies also need to place some emphasis on problems, rather than just stating the solutions.When companies only focuses on solutions and arrives at meetings with only a few solutions ready, they fail to learn from different perspectives.
Furthermore companies must go out of their way to include individuals or parties with dissenting views in their everyday operations.The companies with the most authentic dissenters usually come forward with the most creative and applicable solutions. Another critical point in creating a culture of nonconformity is to model receptivity to critical feedback.In a situation where managers promote conformity, employees usually quickly pick up on this and withhold ideas that could have maybe contributed in creating a solution.
Cultural Innovation and Cultural Branding will only take place if a company is completely aware of what the current ideologies of society are, as well as the cultural contradictions that challenge them.Only then will a brand be able to become an iconic symbol.