Every Brand Should Embrace Contemporary Culture...And Here's Why
Updated: Feb 10
There are two different lenses through which just about every adult on the planet views the world. One of those lenses consists of seeing the world within the purview of only taking a safe, reliable, predictable, approach to life.
That approach can consist of things like only listening to radio stations or playlists that feature songs that they grew up listening to in high school or in college. And only allowing people in their social circle that they’ve grown up with; went to school with, worked with, or that lived in their particular neighborhood or came from a similar background as them.
It also consists of things like taking the same route home from work every day instead of exploring alternative routes. Only wearing clothes from the same brands that they’ve been wearing for the last ten years or so. And rarely – if ever, eating at a new restaurant. And here’s another one – only adopting new technological devices like smart phones when they absolutely have no other choice. I believe most people fall into this category.
Then there’s the people that view the world through that other lens. They take risks even when they don’t have to. They’re not satisfied when things are safe and predictable because they believe that things can always get better and they know that the only thing predictable and reliable in life is that change is inevitable.
These are the people that always know which new songs are on the Billboard charts because they’re constantly searching for new music and artists to listen to during their commute home – in which they often take alternative routes depending on their mood that day.
And they certainly wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the same style of clothes that they wore ten years ago because they want to be the best-dressed person at the new chic restaurants they patronize every week. Restaurants in which they arrived to by getting directions from Google maps on the latest smartphone that their new friend that they met at the mall suggested they give a try.
I believe these are the types of people that are more likely to change the world.
I also believe that every brand has its own personality whether it chooses one or not. And like most adults, each brand views the world through one of the two lenses mentioned above as well. A brand either plays it safe and predictable or it takes risks even when it doesn’t have to. And when it comes to embracing contemporary culture, the latter is definitely required.
Here’s why I believe that every brand should do just that.
Why should brands embrace culture?
At my marketing firm Decryption, one of our motto’s is to, “Connect via culture.” That’s because we believe that culture is one of the surest ways to connect with people. Which is why we make it a priority to embrace people from all ages, sexes, races, religions, and backgrounds.
Not only because it gives us insight on various sectors of society. It’s also part of being empathic and cognizant of the outlooks of others. Which helps us understand them better. And it’s through that understanding of society, that we gather insights on trends before they actually become trending.
Another one of our credo’s at Decryption is to “See the simmer before the boil.” Which means to know about what’s hot and what's about to start buzzing before the masses do.
And while we’re cognizant of various cultures. We primarily focus our marketing approach towards contemporary culture. Not only because we come from and represent hip-hop culture – which we love and allows us to stay on top of and set trends. It’s also because contemporary culture is something that has always galvanized everyone entwined with it.
Which is why every brand should embrace contemporary culture.
Brands that embrace contemporary culture will always have an edge over brand’s that don’t simply because culture – along with story, is what will connect consumers to their brand and to one another.
In his book, The Culting Of Brands, author Douglas Atkin stated, “You must create a sense of community around a unifying set of values and worldview.” Contemporary culture does just that by uniting all those that are interested in – and contributes towards uplifting it.
Atkin also stated that brands should, “Find some point of familiarity that enables a connection yet maintains a clear separation from the rest.”
Culture is the thing that can create that clear separation by distinguishing brands that welcome change, relevancy, and a fresh outlook of the world from those that don't and prefer the old way of life and for things to stay the same because the status quo has been working well enough for them up to this point.
The fact of the matter is that although all brands should embrace culture – most will not. It’s almost like getting to know a stranger from a completely different background from which you come from. There will be some that do – but most will not. Which works against them because they'll never get to know what the great things that other cultures besides their own have to offer.
The reason most brands will not embrace contemporary culture is because to embrace contemporary culture is risky, dangerous, unpredictable, dubious, and any other antonym to safety that you can think of. But like people, it’s the brands that are willing to take those risks that will be the ones to go on to change the world by connecting via culture.