Why Brands must have strong and relevant meaning in today’s culture context.
* By Patrícia Weiss
Consumer goods are carried with cultural meaning, which goes beyond its practical utility and commercial value.
Brands hold its powerfulness when achieve a vibrating brand culture, with deep resonance in contemporary culture. Therefore, building a consistent brand culture is the same as building a strong meaning in today’s social culture context.
Brands capable of tune in its meaning with what’s relevant could easily become a cultural icon, an icon brand. It has to be done fully connected with culture, not imitating (blending into the culture) it though.
As cultural icon, brands remodel its expression prerogative, empowering a heavy symbolic wavelength to its most enthusiastic customers.
Brand Culture means survival.Brands do not longer survive only by its strenght neither its awareness. Consumerism and culture are nowadays linked as never before. Consumer goods are carried with cultural meaning, which goes beyond its practical utility and commercial value.
Cultural industry (advertising, PR, entertainment, fashion and press) produces, cultivates and monetizes icons, as a transferring meaning tool with audience playing a co-author role. Customers use cultural icon meaning to express their principles, cultivate ideals or create and maintain lifestyles and perceptions of themselves.
Brand culture is materialized in managing a vital and dynamic brand ecosystem, in which its diverse ways of being and dealing with the world eventually bring more brand relevance, considering a purpose that expands its ordinary role: a meaning that makes more sense to culture itself.
What a brand stands for is fully related to the reinterpreation of its myth considering cultural context, especially in a hyper consumerism and hyper media culture.
Icon brands become cultural icons, such as Apple, Nike, Coca Cola and Red Bull, when customers identify and adopt its symbols, living the identity myth and rituals in their daily life. Cultural icons are shelters of meaning so ancient as civilization itself, being extremely valuable. Identifying myth’s value anew brand emotional connections with its customers and fans, who collaborate in the production and creation of collaborative culture.
Icon brands create its unique and self brand narrative territory, standing out of commodity performance, building a new culture of consumerism.
Brands must identify market “white spaces”(which is usually blurred by marketing myopia), create new opportunities and initiatives without dilute its patrimony (brand equity) in an shady ocean of possibilities, empowering its performance and reputation.
Kodak once was a global leader in photography films, but focused too much on following tendencies and developing digital products, not concerning about deep questions of culture - loosing its contemporary image territory.
Levi’s turned a blind eye to hip hop culture in US in 1990 and its capacity of revolutionize fashion industry (it’s been said the brand lost the chance to increase its revenue up to US$ 1 billion since then). Phonographic industry could not handle the transformation in digital consumerism culture since Napster effect and piracy. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, became a savior of this market when he created a new music consumerism culture through iPod and iTunes - instead of facing MP3 players battle, leaded by Sony. Philips, one of the most traditional and pioneer brands of its market, couldn’t survive against asian players strength, selling its division of audio and video otherwise.
Brand who renew its investigation lenses in contemporary culture direction, shaping and improving its power of syntony, might discover a well dreamed succeeded formula of success.
* Patrícia Weiss is Brand Strategy Consultant for the Intersection of Brands, Entertainment, Advertising & Culture; Advisory Board Member and Branded Content&Entertainment / Transmedia Strategic Consultant of AsasdaImaginação; and Chief Strategy Officer @ Wanted agency.
Writer, Contributor for M&M and other publications
Juror and Speaker at #BeFest Branded Entertainment & Transmedia Festival Australia
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Original article published on Meio&Mensagem, Column Opinion – Branding, 2013