Tips for Getting Culture Right: Brand Building and Creative Development

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We at Univision know how difficult it can be to get culture “right,” especially when it seems like every few weeks the industry is engaged in another conversation about a brand or business that has offended with their latest campaign.

Over the past 60 years, we’ve had the privilege of helping clients across nearly every industry navigate culture. In doing so, we’ve learned a lot about reaching just about every growth segment, and are excited to share tips to help you get culture “right.”

Build Your Brand First

Whether you are an established brand or new to market, your brand’s awareness and emotional connection to a growth segment is likely different from what it is with the general market. As such, remember to put your brand in the driver’s seat, by focusing on sincerity and authenticity. In fact, you may be surprised to find that different parts of your brand’s DNA resonate with growth segments.  It’s crucial to ensure that your branding is strong to differentiate yourself from competitors – especially in categories where ads look very similar, formulaic and/or where messages are not highly differentiated.

If you remember one key insight, it’s this: 88% of Hispanics say that companies that make a sincere effort with the Hispanic community deserve their loyalty.  So, as you develop your brand strategy, be sure to keep your growth segments top of mind from the very beginning to help you better understand both your consumer, and potential watch-outs that may arise further downstream. We worked with one of the largest drug store chains in America who took this approach, leading them to adjust their in-store experience and product selection to better cater to the Hispanic consumer. Their upstream planning also informed their creative – and both results (in-store sales and creative testing) were extremely strong.

Go Beyond the Data

While it can seem easy to look at data and demographics and build a consumer profile, the tendency to use data to tell the full story can lead to shallow insights that lead to operating on stereotypes. To develop a rich, insights-driven plan, use a combination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques to turn data points into an intimate understanding of real people and families. In the words of author Jennifer Mueller, “Metrics cannot tell you the future, but they can tell you what the journey should be.” Working with partners like UCI who have proven experience with these consumers can help you make more informed decisions, especially when you receive topline data.

Additionally, complement your learnings with a robust understanding of category-based insights among your growth segment, as they can vary greatly.  For example, in most categories, people want to recognize themselves, families and situations as they are right now. But in finance, Hispanics want to see a successful and aspirational version of themselves—the person they will become in the future.

Create Assets That Resonate vs. Reflect

Inclusive advertising is critical, but inclusivity is so much more than choosing diverse actors that represent your growth segments. The key to successful creative is focusing on whether or not it resonates with your consumers rather than whether or not it reflects your consumers. That means avoiding surface-level representations of culture that are more likely to fall flat. Using Hispanics to illustrate, not all Hispanics have the same color skin, accent, or music preference. However, a more effective strategy involves creative that centers on a cultural insight that your consumer segment can relate to.  However, as with any group of people with shared values, there are particular Hispanic passion points which are an anchor to their identity, and it’s important to treat these points delicately.

Language and Culture Matter

One of these anchors for Hispanics is the importance of Spanish-language in their lives, whether or not it is their dominant language. Spanish is cultural, and we see time and again that when creative is in-language, messages resonate in a more profound way. Let’s look at the numbers: When we compare the likeability of ads (the closest data point to purchase intent) watched by Hispanics 18-49, likeability for Spanish ads is 2X higher than English. Additionally, 88% of Hispanics appreciate a business that communicates to them in Spanish.

When you do this work, you can be sure that your ads will work harder for you, as cultural contextual targeting boosts ad performance by 60%. Further, in-culture ads double brand favorability and influence consumers to want to recommend the brand more, which increases the brand’s social capital. All of which means that creative that is in-culture and in-language has the best chance to resonate.

Getting Culture “Right”

Start with these principles and you will be well on your way to getting culture “right.” But don’t forget, a crucial element of the process is having people that represent the targeted consumers review your ads. If you don’t have anyone internally that can do this, be sure to ask a trusted partner—like UCI— who can provide this perspective. By approaching your growth segments authentically, and with the intention of building trust, these actions will go a long way in overcoming any unintentional mistakes or faux-pas in your brand’s journey to truly resonate with consumers.

Source: 1. Kantar Futures, 2017 – Base: A18-49; 2. Culture in Context: Marketing to the Hispanic Mindset, Univision-Magna Study in Partnership with IPG Media Labs, January 2018

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