*This is a guest post by Deron Hogans.
In my eyes, a brand is a company’s most powerful and valuable asset. It’s how the consumer identifies a company. It’s what they connect with. It’s the personality and the image. In the business of brand building, we are always looking for new ways to connect with consumers, deeper levels to tie the brand experience with their own.
We develop values for our brands and try to align them with the consumers’.
The human experience is one that is personal, social and societal. These are just a few of the levels brands can connect with consumers, the latter being more appropriate for political purposes. But these levels of the human experience all tie into one experience that can encompass each of the three mentioned and more: a cultural experience.
Brands appropriately developed to create a cultural experience or have a deep cultural impact can offer many opportunities to the products and companies they represent. Whether these brands write themselves into the DNA of a culture, foster a culture of their own or both, brands that establish a cultural connection can build a solid foundation on which to stand and make longevity an attainable goal.
When I think about companies that have achieved a deep cultural connection, two brands come to mind: Jones Soda Co. and Nike.
Jones Soda Co. has injected itself into the veins of a subculture of hipsters, creators and innovators by making those attributes apart of the brand itself. Consumers can submit photos of them to the Jones Soda Co. and create bottles with logos that feature their own designs and photography, with the best work eventually making its way to national distributors.
This taps into the spirit of creativity that can be found amongst creative minds and artistic communities. Jones Soda Co. has become a part of that culture.
Nike, however, has not only embedded itself in sports culture, but has also created a culture of its own. By aligning itself with the likes of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi and many others, Nike began to represent a standard of excellence for athletes.
In the midst of this alignment, Nike’s products began to represent the essence of winning, being a champion. Their signature lines became some of the most sought after athletic footwear products on the market, eventually giving emboldening what we now know as modern sneaker culture.
Complex Magazine recently named Michael Jordan as the most influential figure in sneaker culture, and it’s no coincidence that Nike’s commitment to innovation and excellence in product design and development stands behind his shoes’ success.
These two brands are benefiting from making an investment in culture and will be for a long time to come. As brands look for more ways to connect with consumers on a deeper level, culture will stand as one of the best ways to do so.
Culture is something that you will find anywhere you find humanity, and the brands that become a part of it or create their own become a part of a never-ending narrative.
Deron Hogans is a graduating student from Georgetown University’s school of Communication, Culture, and Technology currently working in New York for the global marketing consultancy, EffectiveBrands. His expertise includes brand management, positioning, and strategy development as well as corporate communications. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and various social networks.