Understanding the opportunities brands have for cultural leverage is proven to drive more effective strategic and creative decisions and deliver better commercial outcomes. Applying learnings from cultural analysis ensures greater brand effectiveness. In crowded categories it increases your opportunities to win. Understanding how cultural change affects your brand can magnify and sharpen its difference, distinctiveness and relevance.

The key tool of cultural analysis is Semiotics. This methodology identifies cultural codes & narratives, and the visual and language signs & symbols in the world around us. Cultural codes strongly influence consumer behaviour, motivations, purchasing decisions and attitudes, even if the consumer is not overtly aware of this process. Sign Salad’s added value lies in its collaboration with clients to turn this learning into an actionable brand building and commercial output.

Through an analysis of how culture changes over time, brands can uncover the underlying motivations behind automatic, unconscious, everyday consumer decision making. Armed with this understanding, brands can gain competitive advantage by staying culturally relevant and distinctive.

This is vital for brands because they are inseparable from the culture that surrounds them. They are not merely vehicles or wrapping for products, brands have become cultural artefacts in their own right. Brands can become more valuable & meaningful to consumers by optimally aligning and evolving the narratives and cues they use with culture.

Culture impacts mental availability. The now familiar work conducted by the Ehrenburg-Bass Institute and Byron Sharp, contends that the amount of space available in people’s brains to remember brands and categories is limited. As a result, more effective branded packaging and advertising drives stronger mental availability – that is awareness and memory of those brands. Expert cultural analyses ensure that your brand is culturally aligned, making it more effective at building mental availability.

Unlike traditional qualitative research methodologies, cultural analysts do not talk to consumers directly because they are seeking to uncover why consumers, often unconsciously, think and behave as they do, not just what they say they think. The data set they analyse is based on what consumers see and experience in culture around them and what they share in social media. It sits very comfortably alongside qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, providing deeper context for, and bridging the gap between, what people say and why they say and think it.

Understanding emergent cultural narratives, and the visual and language cues representing such cultural change, is crucial to provide a framework for making fundamental decisions about your brand, what you want it to mean, and what you can do with its positioning, comms, innovation, digital presence, and other channels. This requires a long-term, ongoing engagement with the cultural dynamics of your brand, the category, and the context in which it sits. We fundamentally believe that expert support and input is essential to achieve this.

Why should you include cultural insight and semiotics in your approach?

  1. To identify new cultural opportunity spaces for strategic development (positioning and innovation).
  2. To deepen understanding of a category and the cultural changes affecting both it and consumers.
  3. To future-proof your brand and increase its mental-availability.
  4. To strengthen the ability to make informed strategic, tactical and creative decisions, and reduce business-risk, based on stronger understanding of future consumer behaviour based on cultural change. 
  5. To provide creative stimulus to inspire & unlock new exciting designs, and provide a strong tactical rationale to evolve less culturally relevant brand visual assets.
  6. To enable greater confidence to move forward with exciting new creative work.

Alex Gordon, CEO

Cultural Relevance & Foresight: Why they are crucial for successful brands