Beginners Guide

What is a Cultural Movement?

Cultural Movements aren’t a marketing gimmick, they truly can achieve great things. They can inspire brands to turn their innovation into revolution, they can catapult brands into the stratosphere and they really can make a positive difference in the world today. How?

A Cultural Movement is a completely new way of marketing. You start by identifying a powerful idea on the rise in culture. You then join, fuel and add real tangible value to the idea through innovative marketing and social media. People who share the passion for the idea join the cause. And rally others to get involved too. And so, a movement is born, which smart brands can profit from.

Why is it so different?

Traditional marketing and advertising begins with a product. Cultural Movements don’t. Movements start backwards, if you like. You start with culture first – it’s what’s happening out there that is relevant. Then you look at the customer - what they’re into, what they’re passionate about. Only then do you link this back to the brand or purpose in a relevant and open way. Traditional marketing does the opposite – it starts with the product, then talks to the customer. There’s no interaction, no opportunity.

How can brands use Cultural Movements to their benefit if it’s not about the product?

First and foremost, Cultural Movements are about ideas on the rise in culture, about emotion, cultural cache, and creativity – they do not start with products. But what is clever about them is that people will automatically ‘buy into’ the brand by being part of its Cultural Movement. Because a Cultural Movement should always be intelligently connected with the product and what it stands for. 

Products will always naturally link into a Cultural Movement if it’s done right. So you won’t have any need to actually talk about them much at all.

How do you identify the right ‘idea’ for a Cultural Movement?

You can’t just attach a theme or hot topic to your traditional marketing and expect it to be a Cultural Movement. It has to go further than that.  It’s got to be relevant to a brand and what it stands for. This is a big mistake that many beginners to movement marketing make. They assume that because today, everyone is talking about x, that this will form their Cultural Movement. Regardless of how it fits with how their brand operates, sells and communicates.

A Cultural Movement begins from the inside out, from the heart of the brand and its parent company who have to live and breathe it. If a product doesn’t reflect the Cultural Movement you’re trying to spark, and isn’t actually true and authentic to the message, it won’t work.

Success is a good way of summarising the basic ABC of Cultural Movements:

S: Start by looking within the brand itself. A Cultural Movement theme should be self-generating, aligning and supporting the brand’s current ethos, what it stands for. Integrity and truth are crucial for a Cultural Movement, don’t think you can fool consumers just by saying you’re now passionate about x if your brand says otherwise.

U: Understand your customers. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you know exactly who buys your products. You need to know who you’re speaking to, and how they like to be talked to.

C: Capture public passion with your cause, don’t just jump on the same old bandwagon as every other brand. Do something different.

C: Communicate and engage with your customers through every channel possible. Remember that they’re the ones in charge – they can either kill off your movement or make it fly. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool there is, so don’t keep yours shut. Make the most of today’s technology.

E: Excite your customers. They want to be part of something innovative and exciting, this builds a positive relationship with your brand, so they’re ready and open to your products.

S: Simplicity. Don’t make your movement complicated. Sometimes, the best ideas are the simplest ones of all. Keep your message simple, so everyone can understand it. Any movement that needs an explanation just isn’t working.

S: Softly softly works best as it’s not about the hard sell. It’s not about saying, ‘Hey guys, we love this, you do to, now buy this.’ People are resistant to that. But get inside their minds, inspire them, align with what they are faced with, know what makes them tick and share their passions. Then, and only then, after they’re belonging, can you say ‘Hey guys, did you know we’ve got an amazing new flavour of x,’ and they’ll be much more open and receptive to you and what you’re saying.

How do you keep a Cultural Movement going?

Once the movement begins, each great idea leads to the next. Engagement leads to engagement, motivation leads to motivation and a brand goes from static to kinetic. Every marketing dollar under a Cultural Movement works harder, faster and lasts longer.