As a creative problem solver, my job is to help clients understand and impact the cultural context in which their brands must live and thrive. This encompasses helping them come to grips with what’s going on inside of people emotionally and how they really live their lives. Understanding tech-fueled cultural change is a key dynamic in which we as marketers, will create create meaning and build brand now and into the future.
For all of this incessant talk of disruption, I believe the twin forces of living in a fluid world of liquid expectations, is changing the foundations of brand building and how we need to approach it. Digital has killed demographics and birthed new values, identities and behaviors. Technology has knocked down the walls between culture and category. Brands now compete against the most meaningful ideas and experiences in the world.
DEMOGRAPHICS ARE DYING
We live in a hybridized world that is increasing messy. Many of us have grown up age of the archetype; from “Shopper Moms”, to “Urban Youth”, to the “Creative Class Consumer” and everyone’s favorite; “Millenials!” We had neat little demographic, boxes based on age, race, sex, class, etc. We put unpredictable, emotional people, in tidy, little rational boxes. The rapid and unprecedented exchange of information, ideas, values and lifestyles has crushed those boxes.
HYBRID IDENTITIES AND BEHAVIORS ARE EMERGING
In this fluid world, according to the last census, 50% of non-Hispanic whites had a multicultural mindset and were comfortable taking on values from cultures other than their own. The nature of sex is changing rapidly in this country. The Cassandra Report states, that 65% of youth, are comfortable blending masculine and feminine lives. Fashion brands like Public School, have tapped into this unisex brands reality, creating of the moment androgynous collections, that allow people express this need. Mature people are living longer and maintaining their youth longer. The old expression, act your age, is an assertion that now must be re-thought. The culture gap has closed as we are dressing the same, watching the same trash TV (Kardashians) and listening to the same music across generations. Adele’s sales were a testament to this phenomenon.
COMPETITION BEYOND CATEGORY
Brands have always competed hard inside of their categories, but they increasingly compete across-category and across culture, for attention, time, trust, authenticity, ideas, meaning and ultimately revenues. When an artist like Kanye West, can have 20,000,000 people watch a live-stream of his fashion show, record release, the nature of competition must be re-thought. As brands are contextually positioned next to, sponsors of, and collaborate with influencers of culture, people’s expectations continues to rise of them, and the meaning, inspiration and ideas that they deliver to people.
CULTURE FLUENCY IS THE FUTURE
As technology continues to accelerate the pace of change, it will put more onus on brands to surround themselves with people, tools, and technology inside and outside of their walls, to help them read and apply these emerging signals. The ability to collaborate across discipline with cultural change agents out in the world, and draw new insights, and ideas for culturally dependent brands to keep one step of ahead to maintain relevance with their audiences - will be mission critical. This approach is called Cultural Fluency, and it’s the future.
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.” – Arie de Geus
Chuck Welch - Founder + Chief Strategy Officer
Chuck is a multi-disciplinary strategist with an instinctive grasp of branding as a force within popular culture. He has worked at blue chip agencies developing strategic business solutions for Courvoisier, HBO, Nike, Jordan Brand, and Coke. He founded Rupture Studio, as strategy led, creative collective that works with clients to interpret culture, and harness its disruptive nature as a rocket ship for growth. www.rupturestudio.co