The cultural leadership conversation continues!

Next up: Evan Greene, CMO of The Recording Academy.  Evan has, I think, one of the cooler marketing jobs out there: He oversees the organization that brings you The Grammys!  To that role, he brings deep experience in advertising, branding, corporate identity and promotions.  He spent the first decade of his career structuring integrated marketing and promotional alliances for Disney and Sony Pictures, was responsible for a number of award-winning national campaigns, and he has the REGGIE and PRO Awards, among others, to prove it.

You can follow Evan on Twitter at @hopeandchange.

As a reminder, I’m defining cultural leadership as follows: The ability of a brand to impact the zeitgeist, especially in relation to a particular topic or issue and move it to the forefront of conversation.

Q1: Does this definition work for you? What would you add?

I think cultural leadership requires courage…following your brand’s moral compass if you will. Ultimately, it is about having the confidence that comes with knowing you are making the right moves for the right reasons. And the key way to know if you are is by establishing a cohesive, effective strategy appropriate for the ethos of your particular brand.

Q2: A more basic question: Does the concept of cultural leadership exist at cross-purposes to the main function of the enterprise, i.e., to sell more stuff? Why or why not?

There are always going to be promotional campaigns, or one-offs designed to achieve a short-term needle bump. However, in the big picture, ‘selling more stuff’ is the tangible net result of a smart strategy, executed respectfully. If the brand is respected, and your consumers are respected, they will develop a deeper relationship with your particular brand/product. With this relationship comes affinity, then familiarity, and then…trust. Trust is the Holy Grail. Always has been, always will be. Consumers are more demanding and expectant than ever, so if you remain true to your core beliefs, and establish a deeper relevance with consumers, the net result is often being rewarded with loyalty and an enthusiasm to make a purchase.

Q3: How does risk figure into the equation of a brand’s cultural leadership?

The traditional rules of marketing simply no longer exist. With so many different ways to reach the market, and with so many niche pockets of consumers, in order to lead, culturally or otherwise, one must take risks. Without risk, there are no breakthroughs. Leading, by definition, requires a degree of risk, and venturing into sometimes uncharted territory.

Q5: On a 1-5 scale (1=completely suck, 5=rockin’ the house!) where do you think MOST brands are when it comes to leading culture?


Q6: What’s the 1 thing you’d suggest brands start doing right now if they’re serious about improving their cultural leadership abilities?

Take the time, and spend the resources to better understand not only what your brand stands for, but also what your consumers want. Audit the market – take a hard look at what other successful brands are doing, listen to a wide variety of opinions, absorb what works into your decision set, and discard the irrelevant. Be a constant student of the rapidly-evolving market in which we all live. There are no clear answers these days, and there is no ‘right’ way to do things, so embrace the uncertainty. There will be mistakes, but these become learning opportunities. Don’t be reckless, but be bold, and try new things.


Inspired to add your voice to the mix? Then click here to fill out the questionnaire. I’ll review and serve up the best answers.

Want to check out what other thought-leading marketers had to say on cultural leadership? CLICK HERE!

Posted by Rob Fields

Observer. Curator. Marketer. Dot connector.