Today’s successful brands aren’t the cheapest or the sexiest. They’re the ones with meaning. This “meaning” isn’t defined by a single campaign. Instead, it’s created over time from a consistent strategy that transforms a brand into a symbol of identity.
However, impatience is everywhere, and it leaks into the practices of marketing teams as they evaluate their effectiveness. When given the choice between immediate rewards or a long-term payoff, marketers naturally gravitate toward the quick win. On the surface, this isn't wrong. But without a long-term brand strategy focused on creating a meaningful connection with consumers, marketers will be surprised to find their customer base dwindling if they rely solely on flash-in-the-pan tactics.
Instead, brands can find success by placing their audiences' culture and values at the center of marketing strategies. Brands that do this well will win Share of Culture.
The concept of Share of Culture is based on the mutual belief that your audience and the brand share common values. It's the most enduring and valuable level of a customer relationship and breeds an unshakeable level of trust at which consumers believe your brand is a champion of their personal values. In turn, consumers adopt your brand as a part of their own identity.
The Search for Meaning
Ultimately, short-term wins in marketing aren’t sustainable if the ultimate goal is to create a brand with lasting value. You might capture the attention of your audiences for a fleeting moment and produce a quick bump in awareness and sales, but you need to develop a deeper emotional connection with them if you really want to create a brand they identify with.
That solution comes with understanding your audiences' culture. This, when used properly, can benefit long-term brand success.
You win Share of Culture by discovering all the things your audiences love, believe, get excited about, and share outside of your brand. Use qualitative and quantitative behavioral and lifestyle data that examines what targeted consumers really care about. This research-backed approach finds things your audiences love that you can leverage to create ideas and campaigns that resonate with your customers at an individual level.
Win Share of Culture to Drive ROI
Here are three ways this happens:
1. Create brand advocates. You win consumers' trust and hearts. You turn the occasional shoppers and loyalists into brand advocates. Brand advocates are those consumers who love your brand so much that they become the fuel that drives your reputation and introduces new like-minded and culturally connected consumers to the brand.
2. Foster communities. Brands can attract a community. These communities grow as consumers see themselves reflected in the stories, content, and events that the brand weaves into marketing campaigns.
3. Make your brand a verb. Your brand is on the road to becoming synonymous with the product it sells. Think about it — people don't just search for answers, they are told to "Google" them. "I'll just Uber it" has become synonymous with all ride-sharing services. These brands effectively flex their Share of Culture muscles, and while not every brand can achieve this immersive level of ownership, it should be a goal to work toward.
Marketing designed around the quick win might find the occasional success, but it’s always an uphill battle. Focusing your efforts on winning Share of Culture will be a better investment that generates sustainable ROI.