Why brands need ‘cultural intelligence’


Traditional approaches to strategy underestimate, or ignore, the effects of cultural trends – but the past year has shown that brands need to create the capabilities to continuously catch the waves of culture and ride them in both smooth and rough waters, says Terry Young of the Sparks & Honey consultancy.

Why it matters

Cultural movements affect companies, their people, and their products, so not tuning into them means confronting unexpected roadblocks and blind spots.


  • Culture is horizontal so it’s important to look outside of your own vertical to discover both new opportunities and to recognise potential threats coming from unexpected places.
  • Culture may be intangible, but it can be quantified through partnering humans and artificial intelligence to structure data.
  • Companies need to knit together both slow culture (as identified by R&D/strategic planning) and fast culture (often the social media department), so that they can bring together market activity, risks and opportunities.

Key quote

“We know a lot about how to manage companies from the inside, but the factors that are going to make firms flourish are increasingly external” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School.

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