Introduction to Cultural Branding and How it Relatos to Past Branding Models


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Henri Weijo's guest lecture at the University of Lapland on the 7th of November 2009 in the "Cultural Branding" course.

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Introduction to Cultural Branding and How it Relatos to Past Branding Models

  1. 1. Lecture #2 Cultural Branding in Practice 7.11.2009, Cultural Branding course University of Lapland Henri Weijo guest lecture Aalto Media Factory
  2. 2. Agenda for today •  Quick recap of yesterday •  Introducing cultural branding •  How it works •  How it relates to the other branding models •  How the 4 models work together •  Hybrid branding strategies
  3. 3. So yesterday… •  We learned about the birth of branding •  We learned about how branding became a strategic function •  Mind-share branding •  Emotional branding •  Viral branding •  So now on to cultural branding
  4. 4. Cultural Branding
  5. 5. Introducing cultural branding •  Put together and formally introduced by Douglas Holt in his 2004 book “How Brands Become Icons” •  The themes and thinking had been developed academic articles before this, though (Holt’s and others’) •  To a certain degree a culmination of the rise of CCT thinking in marketing
  6. 6. What is “culture”? •  excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture •  an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning •  the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.
  7. 7. What is “culture”? •  excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture •  an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning •  the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.
  8. 8. Cultural icons •  The goal of cultural branding is to build the brand into a cultural icon •  An icon is a symbol of an ideal that people hold in considerable esteem •  Other than brands, politicians, movies, books, photographs and even events can have iconic value
  9. 9. The thinking behind it •  “Anthropologists have always known we live in an experience economy,” (Sherry) explains. “All consumption is about experience. And once you take that view, products are not simply tools or benefits or practical utilitarian John Sherry Jr.
 kinds of things, but they’re really more about meaning. They’re the way people create meaning and transform meaning and so forth.”
  10. 10. Identity brands •  The cultural branding model is intended for branding mostly identity categories •  Identity brands = value of products as a means of self- expression •  Products such as clothing, home decor, beauty, leisure, entertainment, automotive, food, and beverage etc.  “ego-expressive products”
  11. 11. Identity brands •  Identity goods are a subset of symbolic goods, significantly different from substantive products (Khalil 2000) •  Symbolic products enhance the sense of self-regard, substantive products relate to personal welfare •  Most products combine elements of both symbolic and substantive products (Hogg & Mitchell 1996)
  12. 12. Identity brands •  Brands, products and styles provide a tangible method of meaning transference for consumers who seek to both fit in to peer groups and express individuality (Tuten 2007) •  Consumers feel their identity-building projects are intense “personal quests”, but in truth similar quests are shared by many in the population (Holt 2004, p. 6)
  13. 13. Brand meaning •  Brands are historical artifacts moving through time and carriers of meaning (Holt 2004, p. 1-4, 38) •  Brand meaning is a result of collective interpretations by multiple stakeholders over numerous historical moments (Hatch & Rubin 2005) •  Many of the assumptions in the other branding models don’t take historical and cultural context into account
  14. 14. The gist of Holt’s criticism •  “Timeless consistency" can be impossible to attain, same for controlling a brand identity •  The idea is to align the brand with the right identity myth in a credible and appealing way in its marketing communication ( Holt 2004, p. 11, 214-215) •  Brands respond to changes by “speaking again” in new contexts, and adapt old meanings to new circumstances
  15. 15. Identity myths? “imaginative stories and images that selectively draw on history as source material, which function to continually re-imagine and vitalize the nation’s ideology”
  16. 16. Joseph Campbell and myths •  Campbell states that myths have universal appeal •  Monomyth theory = important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure •  Used a lot in storytelling, even Hollywood
  17. 17. More on identity myths •  Myths define culture by expressing its shared emotions and ideals (Solomon et al. 1999, p. 447) •  People feel anxieties when their personal life experiences and realities are in conflict with what the national ideology expects of them (Holt 2004, p. 45, 57, 210-213) •  People’s identification with an identity myth is dependent on how well it soothes people’s anxieties in their personal identity building projects
  18. 18. Common anxieties • people’s ambitions at work • gender roles and sexuality • their dreams for their children • their fears of technology • college graduation • retirement • mid-life crisis • “the construction, maintenance and dissolution of key life roles that significantly alters one’s concept of self” (Holt 2004, p. 212; Fournier 1998)
  19. 19. Can you think of any anxieties that are specific to Finland? What about myths that soothe them?
  20. 20. How brands soothe anxieties •  Carriers of identity myths offer relief through ritualistic consumption of the product/text/brand •  Brands are special, because even if they aren’t as affective as e.g. movies, they enable ritual and frequent consumption •  For example, by wearing a t-shirt of a certain myth, the myth is “transferred” to the person  in Finnish: “vaatteet on mun aatteet”
  21. 21. Probably the most famous example: Star Wars as a soother of post-Vietnam anxiety in America
  22. 22. Brands and identity myths •  A brand’s strength is dependent on how well a brand encapsulates an identity myth and how strongly people identify with that myth •  The brand manager’s role = to look back and understand the brand’s “genealogy” and match it fit the proper identity myth •  Note: Holt’s view is a tad US-centric, more on that in the last lecture
  23. 23. Populist worlds •  The “place” where the identity myth resides and gives it its legitimacy and cultural appeal •  Usually in the fringes of society (punks, hippies, bikers, gays, extreme athletes etc.) •  People feel drawn to them when they notice that the populist world has an “answer” for an anxiety
  24. 24. Populist worlds •  The brand must “earn” a place in the populist world if it wants to credibly portray the myth •  The insiders who live in the populist world determine the brand’s (and other people’s) worthiness to claim membership in the populist world
  25. 25. Three constituencies •  Insiders - legitimize the brand as an icon for the populist world •  Followers – enthusiastic fans of the brand, not members of the populist world •  Feeders – opportunistic bandwagoners of the brand’s identity value, the vast majority of consumers and were attracted by followers •  The brand must keep the insiders happy, or at least tolerant of the brand’s presence in the world  the insiders are the real target audience •  If the brand manages this, the followers and feeders will follow
  26. 26. ... (2) which will 1. Keep these guys attract a following for happy, or at least the brand… tolerant of the brand by defending the populist world and its ethos ... (3) and the rest will follow
  27. 27. How do you keep the insiders happy? •  The brand must show two things: –  literacy – a understanding of the populist world’s rules, idioms, and codes (Holt 2004, p. 65). –  fidelity - to the populist world it draws from, and sacrifice short term financial gains to gain authenticity (Holt 2004, p. 89) •  “Harmony between good and world” (McCracken 1986) •  Without legitimacy, a brand’s marketing strategy will not resonate with the target audience (Tuten 2007)
  28. 28. Case: Harley Davidson •  Probably the most analyzed case in all of branding  has been featured as a case of all branding models •  The most comprehensive case in Holt’s book
  29. 29. So to recap… •  Brands are carriers of meaning •  Some brands become iconic by encapsulating a powerful ideal •  The most successful brands have been rooted into very relevant populist worlds •  The key is to manage this link to the populist world by showing respect to the people living “in” the populist world
  30. 30. How the branding models fit together
  31. 31. The branding models are connected •  Each model represents and evolutionary step in the marketplace, consumers, brand & marketing thinking and overall progress in management •  Tougher competition has driven the models in different product categories •  That doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t be used together, because they’re intended for different purposes •  “Hybrid branding strategies”
  32. 32. Conceptual differences •  Branding and brand management as disciplines are changing really fast •  It’s important to stop every now and then and do sort of a status check •  Talking about different things with the same concepts can’t be good for strategic planning •  “When you say ‘brand’ you mean…”
  33. 33. Key concepts in branding •  Brand: a distinguishable entity that provides value for both companies and consumers •  Branding: the pursuit to differentiate one producer’s products from another •  Brand management: the choices related to an organization’s attempts to influence brands it controls •  Consumer: single actor who can be considered to be in the sphere of influence of a brand •  Competitive environment: any other instances outside the company’s control •  Note: branding != brand management!
  34. 34. Brand •  The common ground for all models: 1.  something that provides value for both the company and consumers 2.  a brand helps a company differentiate its products from other products •  The biggest differences come from what kind of “value” brands provide to consumers •  Note: I did NOT evaluate product categories with brands, I took Holt’s definition as given
  35. 35. Brand (cont.) •  Mind-share: value is consumers' awareness and the presence in their minds •  For companies, the value is the so-called "product+" notion of brand equity •  “How much can we charge on top of a similar generic product?” •  Emotional: mind-share notion of equity + the "story" of the brand and its emotiveness •  The “emotional brand” is not tied to (abstract) associations, but more complex emotions and desires
  36. 36. Brand (cont.) •  Viral branding: brand equity = the discussion around the brand + the devotion of its consumers •  Consumers are, in essence, the brand’s equity! •  EXAMPLE: consumers rejecting Snapple or Airwalk? •  Cultural branding: brand equity = the brand's cultural heritage + the brand's current cultural position + the populist world’s cultural value +/- the other cultural products fighting for space in the same cultural market
  37. 37. Brand (conclusions) •  Mind-share: The equity of a brand is its associations and their strength! •  Emotional: Yes, but instead of associations, let’s say emotions, because emotions are deeper! •  Viral: Emotions result in actions, so equity is really about how people act on the brand’s behalf •  Cultural: Yes, but it’s culture that shapes our social interactions, so it’s really the brand’s and its consumers’ cultural standing that define equity (and emotions, and actions)!
  38. 38. Branding •  The biggest differences relate to the notion of control •  Mind-share sees branding as a very controllable function, and managers should never "let go" of the reins (to retailers, subsidiaries etc.) •  Just make sure the visuals, tone of voice etc. are consistent, and you’re OK! •  Emotional is mind-share + slight acknowledgement that consumers have power (+ how to work around it) •  Pepper everything with the brand’s story! And I do mean everything.
  39. 39. Branding (cont.) •  Viral: brands are out of control, so let’s embrace it! •  Viral is about making sure that consumers have something to talk about + have the channels to do so •  Cultural: control is based on initiative and understanding "what” the brand is •  The brand's cultural heritage and its constituencies give you little room to operate, but if you have shown literacy and fidelity towards what the brand stands for, the consumers will let you lead (for now)
  40. 40. Branding (cont.) •  Viral & emotional both stress small details and consumer touch points where they can experience the brand •  For viral, it’s about creating topics of discussion (don’t be afraid to be original, even weird!) •  For emotional, it’s about having more entry points to feature the brand •  Storytelling: emotional tells you how a story should be told at different touch points (design), cultural tells you what kind of story should be told and to whom, viral tells you how the story spreads (channels)
  41. 41. Brand management •  My focus was on how strategic brand management (and branding) were seen and how it relates to the organization •  Is it just tactics or strategic thinking? •  Mind-share: brand management is a top level function, heavily coordinated •  Emotional: brand management is managing the details, the whole organization must embody the "story"
  42. 42. Brand management (cont.) •  Viral: "viral is an addition to the toolbox” •  But then again the model calls for building products that will create buzz, so which is it? •  Also, viral calls for transparency and an overhaul in employee training and rewarding •  Viral branding's problem: it hasn't been collected into a single discipline yet, it's very scattered at the moment. Lack of academic writing hurts. •  Cultural: brand management is a consumer management and communications issue •  Faarquah (1994) “Branding is more than communication!)
  43. 43. Brand management (concl.) •  Holt (2004): Iconic brands are strong brands if you measure them with mind-share, emotional and viral standards  “ante to the market” •  So if the basis for all models is mind-share, and mind- share is strategic, aren’t they all strategic? •  Not necessarily. E.g. proponents of Total Marketing call for all sections of the company to be considered marketing. “Strategic” is thus a question of degree. •  Emotional, viral & cultural all call for making the brand seem scarce and limiting short term sales to not hurt the long term. That’s strategic!
  44. 44. Competitive Environment •  Competitive advantages are quickly copied •  “Only branding can provide competitive advantage anymore” (take this with a grain of salt, though) •  Emotional: (visual) branding is now even more important because of globalization  images and experiences work better in different markets •  Emotional: quality and logistics have been commoditized (Pine & Gilmore 1999) •  Emotional & viral: Market information is nearing perfect, people can sniff out the best deals
  45. 45. Competitive Environment •  Christopher (1996): "Consumer sophistication and advertising's declining impact are two of the biggest changes that have impacted the marketplace” •  Arms race advertising: once one medium has been saturated and clogged, advertisers look for the next, e.g. Holt (2002) "Why do brands cause trouble?” •  Viral was born as a result of traditional advertising losing its efficiency. Much of this is overstated, though •  Cultural: your competitors are not only in the same product category, but also different fields altogether! (movies, books, films, politicians)
  46. 46. Brand building process (1/3) 1. Mind-share: put in place the brand organization, the thinking, the initial core promise, and the tangible brand elements. Emphasis strategic nature of brand building in organization. 2. Emotional: add more layers to the brand and take a heavy emphasis in sensorial elements of the brand and the brand’s experiential elements especially in retail environments. Make the brand “smashable”, so that the brand can be identified even from the tiniest bit (Lindstrom 2003)
  47. 47. Brand building process (2/3) 3. Viral: consumers should be able to pick up the brand they’ve just smashed and give new meaning to it. Crucial in online environments, where all brand elements need to be interactive and shareable. The brand’s communications need to become two-way channels for dialogue. 4. Cultural: work hard to get the right kind of consumers to give the brand meaning and be proactive in shaping the brand to become culturally relevant in the hands of storytellers as well. Monitor changes in brand meaning and try to guide this evolution to the right direction.
  48. 48. Brand building process (3/3)
  49. 49. Example:
  50. 50. Cultural branding
  51. 51. Emotional branding
  52. 52. Emotional branding
  53. 53. What about that “other” culture? •  excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture •  an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning •  the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group