If you want to have a real cultural impact, it’s not enough to just be a viral Twitter meme.
Recently I’ve been asking a lot of questions of my colleagues in New York, Brussels, Geneva, and Melbourne in an attempt to articulate what connects our work across the oceans. What does it mean to work simultaneously with the largest tech company in the world and a small, artist-run initiative in Melbourne? How might the experience working with a bank in Brussels relate to that of a watchmaker in Geneva? And why should we care?
Branding, at its core, is the act of influencing perception. Where marketing and advertising emphasize the extraction of value, branding focuses on strategically building value from the ground up: Rather than measuring success through an economic lens, the impact of branding can be considered first and foremost as cultural. Whether you’re a sole trader, a company, a market, or even a nation, cultural influence is key—but it’s the brands that maintain this influence within their communities that go on to define entire industries. This is what we call cultural impact.
More than just a viral Twitter meme, the concept of cultural impact isn’t new—but it is ever-changing. Any business that survived 2020 will tell you brands need to evolve as the world transforms around them. But this doesn’t mean being a “crisis chameleon” and rehashing your brand at every turn. It actually suggests the opposite: that brands with a strong sense of what they are will adapt to change far better than those without. These are brands with the most potential for cultural impact.