This column picks up on the last, in which I talked about the importance of participating in culture for brands. In the last column I called out Red Bull as probably one of the only brands not asking its media and creative companies how to change its current experience. The takeaway there was that due to its own participation in changing the world, the world is changing in ways that benefit the brand.
This week the takeaway is what it means to participate in change. In a breath: It means being a route to cultural evolution. Here are some routes to cultural evolution you will recognize — Oreo powering gay pride, Honey Maid powering diverse families, Lincoln powering art. Being a route to cultural evolution means opening additional channels for ideas to emerge. Oreo opened more conversational channels around the globe for pride. Honey Maid opened a route for more visual images of family that break down stereotypes to surface. Lincoln opened more funding and brick-and-mortar support for art and artists.
Nobody that is part of evolution like this has to ask: “Am I authentic?” They’re too busy seizing existence. If one believes in being part of cultural evolution for real, they will seize the opportunity to open channels for ideas to emerge, and at that point they can’t be anything but authentic if they stand their ground.
When a brand does this, it’s very obvious to the rest of us. You see the work and think, “I know that.” Maybe you hadn’t heard that in language you’d have known how to use, but you heard it in the experience you had of the work. The experience of the work moved a needle inside you. This movement is cultural evolution.
For those of you kind of scratching your head about what culture is in the first place, let me help. Culture: the knowledge a group of folks share.
Culture is everything we know and share — notions of time, concepts of the universe, attitudes, experiences, and beliefs. Now is not the time to turn away from participating in the evolution of all or any of these things. The global community of consumers has never been more connected, and more interested in becoming a group of folks that share a singular knowledge. Global culture is emerging.
Now, the million-dollar
question: Does your brand know what bit of culture it wants to evolve?