Culture Codes Shape Brand Strategies

What gets us excited is talking about the real drivers behind marketing success and business success. We believe the starting point is to understand the customer. Our approach is Tribal Intelligence.

However, this immediately gets complicated...what company isn’t “customer focused?” Simultaneously, how many companies can actually tear themselves away from talking about their own product?

If you are involved with these issues, CULTURAL STRATEGY, Using Innovative Ideologies to Build Breakthrough Brands, by Douglas Holt and Douglas Cameron is such a good read.

Holt & Cameron start with the business model and lay out two approaches to business innovation, based on ideas presented in Blue Ocean Strategy: Technology Innovation (beating out competition with superior tangible benefits in the category) and “Mix & Match Innovation,” which is to configure familiar benefits in new ways. But both result in incremental “better mousetraps,” rather than creating something truly new.

Cultural Strategy explores some great consumer brands and their respectively different & brilliant applications of cultural innovation, by applying ideology, myth and culture codes to create cultural expressions. Holt & Cameron refer to cultural myths and archetypes in our society, such as Jack Daniels romanticization of America’s hillbilly subculture, and Starbucks translation of common coffee drinking into the artisanal-cosmopolitan movement.

Torque is often approached by companies (most of our clients are companies that need business to business marketing services) looking for new ways to be sure their product is included the customer purchase consideration set (those they are consciously considering buying). The functional differentiation is often subtle, if there is any difference at all. But the potential for cultural innovation remains large. The following are some of the codes we’ve found and developed for clients, which tap cultural myths and foster distinctive and engaging brands for both business and consumer markets. These cultural strategies are the underpinnings of how the business operates, and what the organization stands for, and how they deliver for customers:

  • Social responsibility: making a difference
  • Creating trust in an uncertain world
  • Focus on a great culture and an exciting organization, of which to to be a part, such as with a vision for technology, nimbleness, creativity or making the world a better place
  • Connecting with passion
  • Protecting the threatened or the sacred
  • Access to wisdom, or the intelligent way

Once we establish these social codes, where the company goes from there is everything. Expression of a culture code is through a marketing program that unfolds over time, by engaging a wide array of audiences, and by providing value...and show values. Some of the marketing tactics include:

  • Develop a point of view, well expressed in a message strategy and planning into the editorial agenda that include company news, social media, speaking and other publishing
  • Connect with vendors and partners by providing resources, access and information
  • Communicate with talent and prospects by creating community, contact and resources
  • Communicate with current and past customers with trend and other expert information

Culturally driven marketing campaigns also exploit these digital platforms and tools and practices:

  • Social media for business, especially LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Activate media with content, including video for Youtube and owned media such as blogs and websites
  • CRM: eNewsletters, to nurture segmented lists of opted-in tribal users/audiences
  • Webinars
  • White paper
  • Info graphics
  • eBooks and Kindle books