Culturally relevant brands are rare and cut from different cloth than 99 percent of all existing brands. They become iconic because they are transcendent and deeply meaningful to people’s lives. Many marketers mistakenly believe that these brands are simply highly emotive and experiential, but they actually go well beyond that.
Culturally relevant brands seemed to evolve in the past without strategic planning. Disney, Harley-Davidson, Budweiser, Barbie, LEGO, Levi’s and McDonald’s are a few brands that have achieved cultural icon status. Some of them have experienced turbulence and floundered before coming back strongly, while others are currently experiencing strong headwinds. Whether they can continue to adapt as their core constituencies evolve remains to be seen. But let’s remember that some brands that had cultural relevance in the past and then faded have made spectacular comebacks, as well. Hasbro’s Transformers and ITV Studios’ Thunderbirds Are Go are strong examples of quasi consumer brands/entertainment properties that are culturally relevant and arguably more powerful now than they were in their first iterations thanks to visionary brand stewardship and mixed media exposure.