Crowdculture: The key to branding beyond social media

Branding can be one of the most important things one can do for themselves or their business. It is the impression they want to give to the world – what they stand for and how they are perceived. There is a science to branding that goes beyond just making a Facebook page or a Twitter profile. In today’s new media landscape, brands need to find a way to reach the masses not only through social media, but through culture.

Crowdculture can be defined as “digital crowds being a very effective and prolific innovators of culture.” An example of this is the recent “Damn Daniel” Vine. The phrase “Damn Daniel, back at it again with the white Vans” is synonymous with this video. In an indirect way, the Vine proved to be a way to brand Vans through a cultural reference in the digital landscape.

This idea is nothing new; mass media has had branded or sponsored content for a long time. Many brands would sponsor specific television programs or movies. We were able to know the brands because of their relationship with the programs. But with today’s technology, it has become easier than ever to opt out of TV ads, making it that much harder to brands to become recognized.

A new approach has been proposed–cultural branding–in which “brands collaborate with crowdcultures and champion their ideologies in the marketplace.” An example of this is Chipotle from 2011-2013 where they challenged the standards of the food industry, preaching their ideaologies and techniques making them one of the most talked about brands. Another example is Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign, featuring athletes such as ballerina Misty Copeland, demonstrating the ideology of females in strong roles.

Cultural branding takes into account four different methods:

  1. Map the cultural orthodoxy: The brand needs to promote an innovative ideology that breaks the category conventions.
  2. Locate the cultural opportunity: When consumers begin to look for alternatives, it allows for innovative brands to push new ideologies in that category.
  3. Target the crowdculture: Target subcultures who the new ideology would apply affect.
  4. Diffuse the new ideology: Find new ways to spread the ideology to potential consumers.
  5. Innovate continually using cultural flashpoints: Play off issues that are featured in the mainstream media and use them to innovate.

Using this, a brand can brand themselves not only on image, but certain ideologies that appeal to the culture around us. Brands won’t only be recognized for what they sell, but how their ideologies reflect today’s culture. And that will be the true selling point.



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