How Brands Can Tap Into The Power of Culture — Genuinely
Plus: How To Reinvent A Consumer Brand, Comedians Versus AI, Amazon Tackles Fake Reviews With AI, Creating Brand Champions, and more.
Greetings! In today’s issue:
Editorial: How Brands Can Tap Into The Power of Culture
The Latest: Comedians face off against AI
BX: How To Reinvent A Consumer Brand
MX: Forget SEO: Why 'AI Engine Optimization' may be the future
UX: Is Your Product Doing The Right Job?
CX: Survey—Nearly Three-Quarters of Consumers Will Abandon a Brand After Just One Bad Customer Service Experience
EX: Creating Brand Champions
DX: Company Execs Can't Stop Talking About AI
Let’s dive in.
Tapping Into Culture — Genuinely
Culture is powerful. It’s the one thing that no one can live without, like the air we breathe. And like air, it’s invisible and hard to pinpoint. Why? Because it’s everywhere and nowhere at once, yet still underpins everything humans do.
As a business leader, you need to understand that culture:
Creates Our Foundational Identity: Culture provides you and me with a sense of belonging and identity.
Guides Behavior: Culture shapes our behaviors, values, and norms.
Provides Social Cohesion: Culture creates a sense of community and belonging among its members.
Transmits Knowledge: Cultures pass down knowledge, wisdom, and experiences from one generation to the next.
Gives Us A Moral and Ethical Framework: Culture helps determine what we consider right or wrong, just or unjust.
Influences Perception: Culture shapes everything from our taste in music and food to our political and social beliefs.
Creates Emotional Resonance: Art, music, literature, and rituals rooted in culture can evoke strong emotional reactions, making them powerful tools for communication and influence.
Causes Real Economic Impact: Culture plays a vital role in driving economic activities.
When a brand and people from a culture intersect, great things can happen. But the opposite is also true.
And even though it’s a high risk, high reward type of endeavor, every brand, particularly DTC or eCommerce brands, should seriously consider their role within their market’s or community’s culture (or sub-culture).
It’s that important. Here are some points to remember:
High Rewards, High Risks
Authenticity is Key
It’s an overused word, but modern consumers, especially younger demographics (looking at you Gen Z), value authenticity.
If you’re trying to capitalize on a trend, could your engagement be interpreted as genuine or shallow? Are you a casual or a connoiseur?
Dynamic and Evolving
Culture isn't static; it's continuously evolving. What's relevant or acceptable today might change tomorrow.
Are you paying attention and keeping up with those changes? Pay attention to music and pop culture for reference.
Remember Who You Are
Don’t forget yourself. Meaning, you have to strike the balance between catering to others and being yourself. That’s no easy feat.
Are you staying true to your core identity? Because people will notice.
Global vs. Local — Are You Glocal?
In our globalized world, brands often operate in multiple markets.
How will you adapt to each locale? Royale with cheese, anyone?
It takes time to understand others and the culture they’re a part of. Remember to bring a level of humility and respect to these types of engagement or your brand will get recognized for all the wrong reasons.
But get it right, and it could ignite more word of mouth, still the champ of all growth channels.
If you want to learn more, here’s another perspective.
Bots vs. Comedians (It Was Just A Matter Of Time)
When everyone said that AI is coming for your job, you think comedians were worried?
The battle was as cringe as this AI generated art
Well, the AI version of Sarah Silverman took on a two-bit comic (no offense) for a roast sesh at a comedy club in NYC. Guess who came out on top?
“You’re from Long Island and you lost your virginity to a prostitute. Talk about starting from the bottom and staying there.” Maran looked defeated even before the image of Silverman was replaced by one of him.
The Best of Times. The Worst of Times — What’s Digital Life Like in 2035
A lot of smart people were asked by Pew Research their thoughts on the above headline. To summarize…
Their biggest concerns:
AI is likely to increase inequality and compromise democratic systems.
AI is likely to lead to the loss of jobs, resulting in a rise in poverty and the diminishment of human dignity.
Basic facts will be drowned out in a sea of entertaining distractions, bald-faced lies and targeted manipulation. People’s cognitive skills will decline as a result.
Mental and physical problems could stem from tech-abetted loneliness and social isolation.
A trend toward autonomous weapons and cyberwarfare.
Not exactly happy times. On the flipside, the most beneficial changes are:
They believe that digital and physical systems will continue to integrate, and expect that individuals will have personal digital assistants that ease their daily lives.
Advances in digital tools and systems will improve people’s access to resources, and give them access to data in ways that will help them live better, safer lives.
New digital tools and human and technological systems will be designed to assure that factual information will be appropriately verified, highly findable, well-updated and archived.
AI will bring a health care revolution that enhances every aspect of human health and well-being.
People will develop new norms for digital life and foresee them becoming more digitally literate in social and political interactions.
See? It’s not so bad.
Amazon Combats Fake Reviews With AI
In an effort to combat fraudulent reviews, Amazon is turning to AI. They have stopped over 200 million fake reviews from flooding their platform (even though I know more than a few weaseled in there).
“We are always pushing for as many honest and trustworthy reviews, free of influence or manipulation, as possible. Honest reviews provide customers with the information they need to make confident purchase decisions.”
The company’s new AI-generated review will feature key product insights and allow customers to surface reviews that mention certain product attributes.
How To Reinvent A Consumer Brand
A great interview here with Terence Reilly, former CMO of Crocs and now President of Stanley.
A few takeaways for me:
Find Outlier Product Use Cases:
Terence discussed the importance of looking beyond traditional uses of a product. He highlighted how most people might use a product for one purpose, but with creativity, it can serve a different need or appeal to a new audience. Think WD-40.
Prioritize Authentic Partnerships First:
Terence emphasized the genuine fandom that Post Malone had for Crocs. This authentic endorsement resonated with fans and turned into a natural partnership. Similarly, the genuine love for Stanley’s Quencher product by The Buy Guide helped boost the brand even more.
And Post Malone’s fandom for Crocs was authentic, and his fans knew that. That’s also what’s happened at Stanley. When you have that authenticity, you have gold, that you can’t really manufacture, as hard as you try.
Call Your Employees
Terence took the time to call everyone on Friday to get a sense of what’s working in the company. Of course, it took everyone by surprise.
Forget SEO: Why 'AI Engine Optimization' may be the future
AI search for Google and Bing are already here. When will the search engine as we know it, radically change? It’s hard to say, but AI is on everyone’s minds.
So plan for some serious disruption, and a little chaos.
The advertising model as we know it — getting people to go to your website and view it — that’s going to break…I don’t see how that sustains.”
You thought you had a tough time with Google’s algorithm? And there won’t be just ONE AI Engine to feed.
How will you shape AI behaviors? I’ll keep an eye on this for you.
Is Your Product Doing The Right Job?
I read this the other day:
It always made me think about the different goals that entrepreneurs have for their users versus what they want for themselves.
If anyone is tied up in your app, website, or product for hours and hours at a time, then it’s also likely to generate ‘human’ problems, such as:
Mental health issues
Physical health (from a lack of activity)
Bottom line: put people (or your market, or your customers) first.
Design not just for the functional benefits, but also the social and emotional benefits as well. And this goes for any product.
Survey: Nearly Three-Quarters of Consumers Will Abandon a Brand After Just One Bad Customer Service Experience
This is another reason why we highlight EXPERIENCES in this newsletter. Just one bad experience, one bad taste, one bad call, one bad interaction, and that person is gone forever.
The most eye-popping stat?
Conversely, 69% are willing to pay more for brands with good customer service.
It’s time to invest.
Find more data here (and some suggestions).
Creating Brand Champions
Turning your average employee into a brand champion does more for morale and internal culture. It extends to the world. But when you don’t get it right, it goes downhill fast.
Company Execs Can't Stop Talking About AI
When people talk, things change.
The Top Ranked Podcasts Are About True Crime
Why am I not surprised? No business podcasts? Hmmm.
New AI-Powered Brain Implant Restores Feeling And Movement For A Quadriplegic Man
With all the doom and gloom of 2035, let’s leave on a good note today:
In 2020, Keith Thomas became paralyzed from the chest down due to a diving accident affecting his C4 and C5 vertebrae.
Researchers connect an AI system through surgery. This AI interprets Thomas' brain activity, converting it into signals that trigger movement in his arm through external electrodes.
What’s even more mind-blowing? Thomas gained mobility and sensation in his right arm, even without the equipment activated.
One final thing. We just launched a new video. Let me know what you think:
Have a great weekend.
Until next time.