Picture: 123RF/melpomen
Picture: 123RF/melpomen

Brands today have an obligation to align themselves to a purpose – it’s what consumers demand of the brands they choose to engage with. Because of this, most brands express an opinion or make a comment about social issues that go beyond relevance and have far more to do with cultural magnetism.

Cultural magnetism is the level and ability of brands to connect with consumers beyond their expectations of value and quality, creating experiences that connect people to brands, each other and their communities. Brands with cultural magnetism have a deeper customer advocacy, which helps to drive pricing, loyalty and better market performance. This makes the difference between electrifying a target market and fizzling out completely.

VMLY&R South Africa, together with BAV (BrandAsset® Valuator), has been running the world’s largest study of consumer brand perceptions since 1993 to understand how cultural magnetism occurs. The Cultural Magnetism Index has been created, providing three measurable dimensions of magnetism: emotional connection, cultural connection and experiential connection.

Brands that have the ability to tap into cultural conversations and moments and deliver emotional resonance by declaring an opinion which shows the brand owner’s core beliefs are able to generate cultural magnetism, attracting consumers by creating meaning in people’s lives. This ultimately translates into revenues.

Emotional connections between brands and consumers go far beyond the “brand love” marketers like to talk about. These are connections that rally communities and inspire consumer commitment and willingness to spread important messages beyond product or price. This spark that ignites the relationship between a brand and a consumer is an emotionally connected brand.

Culture is a new medium, a canvas or a stage for shared cultural interests. Cultural connection is where social media comes into its own as a core element of the marketing mix. Magnetic brands use voice, emotion, sentiment, different topics and clout to create a broader, more meaningful connection with the people who matter to them in that space.

The best brands know how to add value to their supporters. They innovate to solve real problems and make life easier. In other words, they see the way consumers experience them as a way to build cultural magnetism.

To work, these experiences need to be thoughtful, relevant, connected and impactful, resonating with the brand’s core. They also have to be there for every moment of the customer journey, from purchase to problem.

The big take-out:

 Cultural magnetism connects brands and consumers, going beyond product, quality and relevance and tapping into cultural and social issues to drive consumer advocacy.

Culturally magnetic brands are built through data and analysis that enables the evaluation of connectedness on all three of the connection levels: emotional, cultural and experiential. This will demonstrate the strengths, challenges, and opportunities for brands to become more magnetic.

Brands are no longer just brands. They have become forces with the ability to change society through authentic efforts, allowing for new perspectives and opportunities. To do this and to tap into emotional, cultural and experiential magnetism, brands must know the mindset of their consumers. It’s about asking questions such as the following: Does the brand have a clear crowd or community?  Can it stand with its audience? Does the customer experience amplify the brand’s promise? What does the brand’s crowd really want? And: Can the brand deliver?

Honest, considered answers can help savvy marketers identify what their brands stand for and put them on the path to building culturally magnetic brands.

  • Jacquie Mullany is the executive creative director at VMLY&R South Africa