Added Value Edits: Connecting with Culture

08 Jan 2016|Added Value

We start the year with a focus on one of the key ways to build and maintain brand resonance: how to connect with culture and cultural change. With learnings as diverse as Lush’s experience touchpoint planning and Semaine’s penchant for celebrity-influenced brand choice to the Uber of the health insurance industry and Dulux rethinking its role as an organization, there’s plenty of food for thought. Enjoy.

Connecting with Culture
It is becoming ever clearer that people don’t fundamentally care about brands. They are so peripheral to people’s lives that only around 5% of brands would be truly missed if they were to vanish tomorrow (Meaningful Brands, Havas). Instead people, of course, care about the things in the world that matter to them – the things they find fascinating, thrilling or important. Click here to read more…

What’s Hot in Culture 2016
To connect with the things people really care about, it is vital to understand and even anticipate what those things might be. Here are three topics we can see getting hotter and hotter in in 2016 – Click here to read more…

Ford contributing something of value beyond their category
Ford is living up to its ‘Go Further’ tagline with the creation of a new mobile app: FordPass. The app aims to make our lives easier by giving us more control of our mobility. Features include starting your car remotely, reserving a parking space, and checking tire pressure. The app was announced at CES, and marks an effort from Ford to provide services beyond their vehicles that tap into new digital behaviors, while creating a platform for the brand to build relationships with customers.

From paint brand to style company
Dulux is famed for being a paint brand that offers colors to suit all tastes. In recent years, the brand has learned from the way people shop for fashion to allow their own customers to shop for a ‘look’ rather than simply picking out a color. The brand also turns to culture for inspiration when creating its ‘Color of the Year’. 2016’s ‘Cherished Gold’ draws from design trends, as well as the ‘golden hour’ just before sunset that photographers try to capture, which is now a popular Instagram hashtag.

Disrupting the health insurance industry
Oscar health insurance is ‘built for the way you live today’ – a statement that highlights the impact that culture has on brands and the services they provide. People now expect features such as easy sign-up, multi-platform access (mobile, desktop), and lifestyle add-ons (Oscar provides a free step tracker when you sign up). Oscar is reminiscent of brands that have disrupted other traditional industries with more simplified offers (Spotify, Airbnb, Uber), and signals a shift towards the creation of services that connect with culture.

Celeb storytelling that sells
Semaine is a new e-commerce website and newsletter that capitalizes on our curiosity for celebs and the influence they have on our brand choices. Each week, a new celeb is featured in a short film shot in their home (this past week was Dita Von Teese), wearing their favorite outfits, using their favorite products, and telling us about themselves. The products are available to purchase and give us a window into who these celebs are –demystifying their shopping habits for us to mimic.

Equinox: commit to something
The latest advertising campaign from gym giant Equinox is said to be a response to the anti-commitment culture displayed by millennials who now embrace services such as Tinder and Class Pass. The ads show people committing to unlikely passions, and as usual, the models are toned, sculpted and very attractive. This follows on from the previous “Equinox made me do it” campaign, with the same idea executed differently to present a consistent brand character and commitment to who they are as a brand.

Lush keeping it real
Lush draws customers into its world at every touchpoint. The flagship London store immerses us in a sensory experience of music, visuals and scent, and the Lush Kitchen Instagram handle shows us the people and ingredients behind the products. Lush knows who they are, and they never pass up an opportunity to prove it. They have created an experiential extravaganza, whilst always staying true to themselves. They make authenticity edgy and gutsy.

Bergdorf Goodman showcasing a cultural icon
Iris Apfel is a 94 year old fashion icon. She has had an enviable career as an interior designer and textile maker – even leading a White House restoration project for the Kennedy’s. Iris was the toast of 2015 when a documentary about her life was released. Bergdorf Goodman – a luxury goods department store in New York – was quick to create a window display design inspired by Iris, which gave the store renewed relevance through a cultural icon at just the moment when everyone was talking about her.

Volvo connecting to culture through music
Volvo signaled a new move for the car brand by teaming up with Swedish DJ and producer Avicii. Instead of creating a TV spot, Volvo released a music video on YouTube featuring Avicii’s remix of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. The goal of the video was to appeal to a younger audience by connecting emotionally through music and using video – a medium that they consume. Music can help a brand reach a new audience in a culturally relevant way, and the artist also helps increase views by sharing on their social channels.

Get in touch if you’d like to hear how Added Value can help you think about strategic marketing that works.

Written by Jonathan Hall, President North America Consulting, Added Value

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