Infusing Culture into Your Advertising
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Rather, I’m talking about that thing that defines communities. The way the people can look, behave, and live.
We have our cultures, our subcultures, and each one, regardless of what it might be or how it might be perceived, is overflowing with its own defining imagery.
Businesses can learn a thing or two from these communities. The days of one-size-fits-all advertising are quickly fading. Some of this is a direct result of the trend toward “local.” Neighborhoods are choosing to spend locally, rather than giving their money to generic regional and national chains. It’s also a result of social media. We can tailor our social media sources, and the internet at large, to our specific needs and interests. We expect to find and see things that relate to us. And when we don’t, what are we teaching ourselves to do? We’re teaching ourselves to ignore it. And I’m sure there are people who wish there were ad blocking extensions for the real world, as well.
There are some businesses on a micro level, the local of the local, who are owned and operated by members of the community who understand their demographics. Many of these small businesses don’t rely on typical forms of advertising, instead focusing on networking through word of mouth and social media. However, small businesses that rely too heavily on social media and/or approach adverting as if it was still 1996 might be hurting themselves. Small businesses come and go. Sometimes, I’m not even aware a business existed until I heard it was closing down. That cupcakery you wanted to try? It probably faded into cupcake oblivion.
Infusing culture into your advertising is remarkably simple. Traditionally, advertising agencies invest in focus or test groups when developing ads. For impersonal advertising this can work, but we don’t want impersonal adverting. What can you do?
Explore your local community. Absorb the sights and sounds, the aesthetics of its existence. Know everything from the arches of the windows, the sound of the bicycle bells, the old man on the bench, and the girl behind the counter. Know who makes up the community so you can use designs–from typography to colors–that reflect the community.
Exploring doesn’t really matter if you aren’t making any friends along the way. Help out and volunteer around the community. You’ll get to know some amazing and talented people. Share yourself.
And in getting to know people, you’ll organically begin to form networks with people. You’ll know who you can go to, others who understand the community and its culture as much, if not better than you. You will meet people in tune with the world around them and who would be more than willing to contribute their talents to your campaigns.
And most importantly: Focus on People
Everyone wants to be appreciated for their talents. Featuring local artists and graphic designers work in your advertising. It can be something as simple as a literal signature on the work. Think film posters. Some artists, such as Drew Struzan who notably illustrated the posters for the Indiana Jones films, as well as Star Wars and many others, have their signature featured on the artwork. Don’t make your advertisement just about you. Make it about the artists, the graphic designers, and of course, the community.