Finally getting around to Douglas Holt & Douglas Cameron’s Cultural Strategy: Using Innovative Ideologies To Build Breakthrough Brands, (affiliate link) wherein they further develop their theories of cultural strategy that were introduced in Holt’s 2004 book, How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding. (affiliate link)
Holt and Cameron hit the nail on the head when they diagnose the reason for the disconnect between contemporary culture and most marketing and branding activities. They write:
Ideological opportunities provide one of the most fertile grounds for market innovation. Yet, these opportunities have gone unrecognized because of the extraordinary influence of economics, engineering, and psychology on management thinking. These disciplines, as different as they are, share a common assumption—in order to simplify the world, they purposely ignore cultural context and historical change. They remove all the messy bits of human life in order to present a tidy view of consumption that allows for corporations to function in a streamlined fashion. But it is in these untidy parts that innovation opportunities lurk.
Yeah, the modern corporation is all about efficiency and scale. Remember Six Sigma and its predecessor Total Quality Management (TQM)? These two ideas, along with the whole of economics, engineering and psychology are meant to give a corporation a measure of control over what is essentially a messy endeavor, how humans make meaning. Until companies can allow for more messiness, they’ll at best be late to opportunities for cultural innovation.