Brands will always need and use metrics, but when it comes to totting up the cultural impact outside of all those precious KPIs across earned, owned, and paid media, we have to think a little more laterally. How do we know we’ve made it as a catalyst of culture, not just added to the conversation? And can we ever tell when we’ve really and truly ‘populated culture’? These are just some of the questions that our Curious panel of VCCP Kin, The Drum, Platform 13, and VCCPme will be tackling at the grand finale of Curious Season 7. If you can’t wait ‘til Thursday’s talk, here’s a rule of thumb formula to gauge just how hot (or not) you might be running on the cultural barometer:
Ubiquity + Elasticity + Momentum = Populated Culture
Has your brand purpose or campaign catch phrase entered the popular lexicon; ‘Netflix and chill’ ? Do other cultural mediums such as films or books reference your brand à la ‘Bend It Like Beckham’? Have people of all different backgrounds, ages, faiths, and geographies heard of your campaign (i.e Because you’re worth it)? Perhaps you’ve been turned into a verb; ‘I’ll Google it’, or even an adjective; ‘she’s like Marmite’. Cultural appropriations and lexical adaptations not only denote you’ve started to seep into areas you never even set out to conquer, but it also proves that people value how your brand views the world, and have a deep understanding of its purpose.
Elastic brands have the capacity to be reimagined and redefined. Reimagination is what other people do with your brand. It’s somewhat outside of your control. It sits outside the usual arsenal of brand measurement tools of AVE, ROI, shares, likes, brand love, and awareness. The distinction between campaigns being reimagined and being forgotten is best described in the comparison of classic Vs niche. The classic gets played over and over across decades by lots of different people all over the world. Songs such as ‘Cry Me A River’ by Arthur Hamilton and ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles (covered by over 2200 artists, including Boyz II Men, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley) have the power to transform over time and be reshaped. They have an elastic quality, and can get pushed and pulled by the vicissitudes of culture.
But how do you measure how elastic it is, or the impact and value of all those reimaginings? Maybe there’s been merchandise; Aleksandr Orlov teddies from Meerkat Movies, or a spin-off series; Keeping Up With The Kardashians has had nine spin-off shows – most recently the ‘Life of Kylie’. Maybe it’s a relic been dragged back from the dead by a public protest, take the ‘Bring Back Cadbury Marble’ campaign, or the fabulous re-make of ‘Queer Eye for The Straight Guy’, to whom we are all indebted for the gift of @jvn (Jonathan Van Ness).
‘Queer Eye’ – Source: W Magazine
Different to having the quality of elasticity, momentum refers to speed; to having a velocity which means you can really drive culture. Besides queues around the block and the power of hindsight, this can be a tricky one to measure. However, examining the momentum or restlessness of your brand or campaign is essential to understanding it’s impact within the context of time. Is it fizzling out, or has it got the legs to keep on populating and affecting culture?
Designer fashion label Louis Vuitton is one such brand that’s looked to give its momentum some fresh impetus, entering into a series of savvy collaborations with the likes of Jeff Koons and the American skater brand Supreme. These unlikely partnerships have breathed fresh life into the luxury brand’s relevance, redefining their target audience and ultimately driving a profit increase of 23% for their holding company (LVMH) in 2017.
‘Louis Vuitton x Supreme collection’ – Source: ft.com
Tracking your impact on culture might not be the easiest, or indeed sexiest of tasks. But with a sprinkle of ubiquity, a healthy dollop of elasticity and plenty of momentum, you’ll be well on your way to gauging just how much culture your brand has really populated. Keen to learn more? Join us in reception on Thursday 5th July to see how our panel of experts really measure up. Until then, stay Curious!