Brands that shape culture

Culture has always reflected the relationship between people and brands, with brands finding inventive ways to stay culturally relevant. But more recently brands have started to shape culture.

These ‘culture brands’ have a mission beyond themselves: they’re looking to champion a societal need, change a social attitude or behaviour, and make the world a better place. For brands to succeed, it’s no longer simply enough to communicate what the brand does; also, and more importantly, it must convey what it stands for, it’s values and what it calls us all to do.

Many companies have recently looked to define their purpose as a way of stretching beyond their own needs, and combining this with doing good in the world. Now brands have taken on this mantle, whether it be challenging female stereotyping, standing up for workers’ rights or creating a new vision of balance in health and wellness.

In order to better understand how brands can shape culture, we have put cultural understanding at the heart of our newest research methods. We have done this by working with the biggest cultural phenomenon of our time: the sharing of photography via smartphones.

Our inventive projects rely on ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’. People show us how they experience the world and brands. The result is fresh profound truths. It provides a real-time window to people’s lives. Instead of analysing people’s behaviour by reflecting what they ‘think’ they did, we analyse what they actually did. Instead of telling us after the event, they show us during it.

Mobile has embraced people’s love of taking photos, and empowered them to share images instantly and in unprecedented numbers. Visual content has become – through technology – a key indicator of people’s loves, hates, aspirations, experiences and, sometimes, fears.

Photography is, more than ever, becoming the story of people’s lives. Not the story of what was but what is. Not what they once cared about but what they care about now.

Culture is something you sense unconsciously from everything around you. We’re moving away from research methods that are out of context, reflective and framed by our language, not theirs.

We’ve found four major advantages in putting culture at the heart of our understanding of brands:

CONTEXT REVEALS HIDDEN TRUTHS

Discovery moments, surprising competitive contexts, behaviours people couldn’t explain, things we didn’t even know to ask

IDENTIFIES HABITUAL BEHAVIOUR

Which is often very low conscious, and easily forgotten about when asked retrospectively

REVEALS THE INTIMATE AND THE EMOTIONAL

People are prepared to share the things that are most personal to them

INCREDIBLE ENGAGEMENT

Using photography as our frictionless gateway into people’s lives generates thousands of pieces of content from just a few hundred people

Tapping into cultural behaviours puts us closer to the culture that’s being shaped and, in turn, helps us guide our clients’ cultural strategies in new and surprising ways.

Culture brands shape the experience. Cultural research understands it.

Share this article
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Check out more Big Thinking Articles

‘A(i)LIVE’, the world’s first ‘living’ market segmentation tool, powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence

The Value Shift

AstraZeneca and Hall & Partners win ‘Best Use of Innovation’ in 2021 BHBIA BOBI Awards

One year of lockdown disproportionately impact girls’ education in Britain

90% of healthcare professionals agree that purpose matters in brand choice

Sustainable Beliefs

What are the big ethical challenges for AI in healthcare?

Why isn’t soccer more popular in the US?

How to predict market trends with one simple principle

Jaguar: it’s time women took the wheel in automotive advertising

Previous
Next
© 2021 Hall & Partners. This website is powered by 100% renewable energy. All rights reserved.

Website developed by Digital Berry Ltd

Signup for our Newsletter

Keep up with the latest marketing trends, industry perspectives and global insight reports shaping the world’s biggest brands.