“The ethics on which brands are built need to be ingrained in the business if the brand proposition is to be credible to consumers”. – Paul Gaskell
The popularity of a company’s brand depends on a variety of reasons. Top amongst them should be the reputation of the company, the previous performance of the brand, the brand’s cultural strategy and many others. We will ‘speak’ about a brand’s cultural strategy and how it can help the growth and stability of the brand. Given that companies now have to deal with and manage a smarter and more informed ‘breed’ of customers who want to be kept updated consistently and through whatever platform / medium they want. A brand’s cultural strategy must be actively worked on and must be displayed and conveyed through all the channels of communication that are available. No company can afford to remain passive about their brand’s promotion and neither can they hope to market and endorse it through a single channel. A brand’s promotion cannot be a one-off either – it is for this reason that it is being referred to as ‘strategy’.
Creating a brand’s cultural strategy means that customers will perceive and receive meaningful, effective and value-added experiences each time they associate with the brand. Also this aspect of the brand would also completely connect with and endorse the company’s values, beliefs and culture, which is extremely crucial for the brand to survive. There are so many brands today and with each brand claiming supremacy, customers tend to become confused and could refrain from buying. To cut through this ‘noise’ and clamour, the company and its brand must be able to create and sustain a unique culture that would make them highly visible and always within the ‘radar’ of the customers. There is an adage that means – “what can be seen, sells”. So if your brand is visible and on the active business landscape, there is a better chance of it making better and faster sales. So creating a brand’s cultural strategy essentially translates to your company and the brand being able to establish and sustain effective connections with the existing culture and mind-set of the target audience. Linking your brand’s culture with that of the potential and existing customers is the starting point of a relationship and also shows your brand’s commitment and awareness to the customer’s needs.
When a company is able to grasp the understanding of the popular culture, it would be easier to put together the brand’s cultural strategy. A brand that is able to start and build a culture will soon have a ‘fan’ following that makes it invincible. For example – the youth of today are becoming increasingly smarter and better connected. They are able to discern and understand and choose only what they believe to be good for them. A brand’s cultural strategy in this scenario should be to start a campaign or promotion that revolves round the mind-set of the young and encourages their bold determination and fearlessness. The brand’s cultural strategy should be able to highlight the importance of their mind-set while also helping them to harness their energy to reach new heights. The brand must become ‘their brand’. This does not mean that your brand’s cultural strategy is pitting itself against other established brands but in fact it would become a niche brand in its own right. Your brand’s cultural strategy should be able to clearly display and make an effective contribution to improving and changing the lives of people. In addition, your brand could already be an established one and then it would be simpler to work your brand’s cultural strategy to affect positive and long-term changes. This is a great way to ‘include’ your customers in your company’s ‘life’ and with customers as your biggest supporters and fans, it would be hard to get beaten.
As with every business being able to monitor progress of any strategy is extremely crucial. This is possible through the collection and collation of data and also the monitoring of the same. To ensure the success of your brand’s cultural strategy it is important to understand the extent of your brand’s presence and also how well other brands are performing in the current scenario. A cultural ‘connection’ between your brand and the audience once established, should be monitored and sustained to provide a clear picture of your brand’s future performance and growth indication. Irrespective of your brand’s current size and ‘place’ in the business scenario, it can achieve new heights by forming a cultural connection. This would essentially mean that your company has an established and deeply ingrained culture that can be effectively translated in the brand’s cultural strategy. Being able to help customers achieve what they want and get what they want, should be the focus of the brand’s cultural mission. The kind and number of customers that your brand can positively affect will be solid data and confirmation of the success of your brand’s cultural strategy.
A brand’s cultural strategy does not mean that the company must spend huge amounts of money to achieve exceptional results. Simply by appealing to the beliefs of the audience and ensuring that the brand becomes the connection between what they know and like can produce extra-ordinary results. Too often companies get caught up in trying too many and complicated strategies and ignore these emotional connections, where many opportunities to connect with the audience are hidden. The company’s and brand strategies that focus on the emotional benefits to the audience are able to dominate the minds and imagination of the customers. This is so because this is the level at which customers often reason and think.
The problem that companies face with only appealing to the reasoning and practical ‘side’ of customers is that they lose out on being able to truly create innovation. The fact is that products and services within the same industry are almost the same and hence differentiation is tough. For the brand to truly have an impact, the company must focus on the brand’s cultural strategy that appeals to and catches the fancy of emotions and feelings of the consumers. The company must be able to portray its ‘soft’ values and beliefs via the brand’s cultural strategy such that customers can and will want to endorse the brand because it reflects ‘them’. For a company it is all about being able to create and sustain the interest of customers by weaving their brand into the framework of the emotional needs and expectations of their customers – both existing and potential.
The brand’s cultural strategy would be even more effective when it is able to tap into and address the subconscious emotional needs of the customers. The foremost such emotional need being that of the creation of a positive self-image and enhanced self-esteem. We have discussed previously that customers often don’t buy products or brands because they need them to solve a problem. They buy a certain product because it makes them look good, allows them to ‘fit in’ and or enhances their sense of self. A brand’s cultural strategy must therefore connect the business with what customers believe in and also with the current state of the business environment. This will accelerate growth and allow the company to contribute towards innovation and presenting novel ideas in a manner that is useful for its customers.