Doing something that touches culture is the golden standard for brands. You want people to look at what you are doing and not only remember it, but also talk about it "behind your back" so to speak. I find myself always pausing when I use the word "culture" in meetings though. It falls a bit too far to the buzzword category now, but even worse than that I think everyone has their own definition of it that changes how they perceive what you just said. In general I think their are two ways in which people normally mean it:
Company Culture: Do you have dogs and mini-golf at your office? What about catered lunch everyday? In general when people refer to a companies culture they use it as a blanket term for what type of perks you have, how people feel about each other, and how you can act around the workplace.
Social Culture: Anything that gets someone to stop, take notice, and file away what you are doing to reference in the future in conversations of their own. If I see something from a brand that I am going to bring up later in larger discussions - to me that is a sign of something that is effective because I was able to reconcile it with my worldview.
It may not be right to lump these together under one definition, but I do think that these two types of culture relate to each other much more than we notice at times.
My good friend Paul Wolcott is a Partner at the company Great Place to Work. They are a global authority on what it takes to build amazing company cultures. He once gave me the best definition I had heard of what we mean when we say company culture. It consists of three things:
- You have passion for the work you do.
- You have camaraderie with your coworkers.
- You trust the people who lead you.
This seemed like such a succinct way not only to define what it truly means to have a company culture, but also shed light very clearly on the fact that perks fade but the way you interact with information and people is most important.
Let's look at the other side of the coin now: culture in marketing. To me, moments and marketing that can be seen as cultural are those that not only draw on references you have stored away and current events, but also build directly on top of them. If you were to define it in the same three steps as company culture, it would look something like this:
- You relate to what is happening and understand it.
- You feel like you can share it with friends or others you meet.
- What you are seeing helps you further define who it came from.
Things that we define as "culture" are the things that affect how we relate to one another and the world around us. I want to be taught somethings, I want to draw my own conclusions and connections, I want to be able to relay it on. Think about it this way: anything that can be categorized under culture is a bit like a lego brick. It has to be able to connect to something existing, and have space to be further built upon later. I don't care it we are talking company culture or culture marketing.
Let's finish off by melding out three step lists together in an attempt to define how we produce things that can be seen as cultural-marketing. The piece of content, activation, marketing, company outing, new process, etc, has to:
- Be understood be and affect or relate to you personally.
- Give you the opportunity to use it to relate to others in a new way.
- Teach you something about or further help define its source.
If you can pass these filters with what you are doing, you are making something meaningful. It can be all the way up at the campaign level, down on individual content calendars, or even just an internal happening for your team - no matter the size you are able to touch and affect culture. Synthesis opposites. Get people talking.