By Rohi Mhere
IN the cultural approach, the brand is analysed as a “cultural artefact moving through history” (Holt 2004, p. 215) and is as such comparable to a Hollywood movie, a Prize-winning novel or a music festival concert and as such iconic brands are the ones that have managed to integrate themselves in culture more skilfully than others.
Culture is one of the most important factors to consider when building an iconic brand, by so doing you are creating something that people of all classes and races can relate to. Up to date most African businesses are partially founded on the basis of culture but on the basis of making profit, which I cannot blame, there is a difference between building a brand and building an iconic brand. Its not every brand that manages to be iconic and those who succeed to build iconic brands would have skilfully managed to integrate culture into the equation. Culture is a proven psychological tool that ignites an excitement in consumers. The sad news is that culture has been neglected and left aside by most African Entrepreneurs as it is has not appeared to them as a worthy priority.
In a world that is ever changing we need to reconsider our approach in building competent Brands, the human being of today has a very different mind-set from a human being of 1900s, everything has evolved and so did our thinking. We are now living in a world where there are so many options to almost everything we need, but what makes us connect to specific brands is culture. Culture creates a unique relationship between the consumer and the Brand, the reason why most people want to associate with certain Brands is because they can relate. A good example is how Nike managed to identify and implement the culture of jogging that was rapidly growing in America into their brand, they proved to be successful and were able to amplify that culture and turn it into something that people could relate to, not only in America but the world, that’s the reason why we regard Nike as an iconic brand world wide because it managed to identify and amplify culture. Culture also creates purpose for your brand, because you are now doing it to continuously satisfy and improve people’s interest towards that culture.
An important thing to note is that we cannot create culture, Culture is already in existence, but it takes us entrepreneurs to identify and take those small threads of culture, create interest and amplify them into something that the whole continent can relate to thus becoming an iconic brand.
The biggest reasons why culture is one of the most effective tools when building brands is the fact that as human beings we are social creatures and we need something that we can reference our behaviour, attitude, way of dressing and way of life to. Study shows that 98% of human beings world wide are associated with a certain culture, so this is why it is important for businesses to take advantage of this tool called culture when building brands.
One might ask how then do I integrate culture in Building my brand, below are 4 steps you can use when building an iconic brand
Target a cultural contradiction.
The iconic brands have been able to target cultural contradictions in society and perform a powerful myth to accommodate the tensions: ‘Cultural branding works when the brand’s stories connect powerfully with particular contradictions in American society’ (Holt 2004, p. 224).
Act as a cultural Activist
Aspiring to the identity value of a cultural icon, radical action needs to be taken: ‘Icons act as cultural leaders, as activists encouraging. People to think and act differently through their stories’ (Holt 2003).
Create original expressive culture as an artist
Also, when it comes to aesthetics, the brand must lead the way and not just follow trends. The brand icons have managed to provide their own unique visual expression and thereby have provided consumers with something entirely new and original.
Develop an authentic populist voice
A brand must be perceived as a credible representative of a ‘populist epicentre’ (a non-commercial place; for example, subculture, folk culture or a social movement) which is where new non commercial culture is being created. The brand must display a deep understanding of the point of view it represents.
We cannot change culture but we can improve culture through branding and innovation, because culture is dynamic and it evolves on its own and so if we improve it, we are actually infusing interest into other people towards adapting and relating to that culture.
Rohi Mhere is Brand Designer, Brand Strategists, Brand Manager and Brand consultant with a demonstrated history in the industry, he is also the founder of Drop Studios a brand design consultant Agency based in Marondera. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org