Brands as cultural myth-makers: Part 2

December 14, 2011

Landor staff
Brands that get under people's skin tap into more than the latest pop trend—they absorb and refashion culture at every level to create their own mythology.

Continued from part 1...

Marketers instinctively sense this need for "emotional connection" and "story," mining so-called trends and the cultural zeitgeist to identify that magical hook that will make consumers care about their business. We're forever seeking out the latest, the hottest, the stuff of the future. But what is equally important is the provenance, development and heritage that defines who people are, how we behave, and why we have come to value the things we do and created the world in the way that we have.

Brands and content that get under people's skin are those that tap into more than the latest pop trend-they absorb and refashion culture at every level to create their own mythology. The world of Apple is also that of DaVinci and Einstein, where quirk of genius triumphs over the dead weight of convention, both through the visionary himself and his body of work. Hipster culture is affluent urban America's millennial response to over-education, cultural fragmentation, and consumption fatigue-the latest delicate footsteps in the nonchalant wanderings of the centuries-old dandy. A film like The Matrix was seminal at the time of its release because it fused age-old ideas and existing conventions into novel form. Threading philosophies from the likes of of Zhuang Zi and Deleuze through a blend of cyber-kung fu-action movie conventions, The Matrix created a heck of a sexy partnering of existentialism and cyberpunk, plugging into turn-of-the-millennium preoccupations with technology and entertainment redefining our experience of content and reality.

Ultimately, the distinction between art, commerce, and life is blurry to me. Economy, society, and culture are all threads in the patchwork of human experience. Is the Mona Lisa about grace, Da Vinci's reputation, the art market, or the history of art? Is a Tweet an act of sharing, self-promotion, business exchange, or technological pioneering? In the marketing and communications industry, we're forever searching for the next big term-are brands about ideas, ideals, stories, conversations, experiences, or actions? I think brands are about enriching culture, understanding how creativity and enterprise can build on existing heritage to reframe the cultural context in intriguing new ways.

Category: Customer experienceTags: Storytelling
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