Crowd Culture: What is it and how does it affect Branding?

When looking at brands that have endured the test of time, such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, most people would regard them as aeonian. That is, unchanging and continuing indefinitely as they are from when they first began.

However, change is imperative for growth, and it’s no different for these supposedly unchanging brands. Over their many years of establishment, these brands have adapted to current times, garnering a huge fan base in the interim.

So, What is Crowd Culture?

Because of how convenient and connected our world is today, digital natives are becoming increasingly vocal about societal issues. They are quick to call out brands when it comes to problematic or insensitive advertisements. But are also quick to support brands whom they deem as worthy.

what is crowd culture

We have crowd culture to thank for this phenomenon, which is defined as diverse, widespread groups of people who join in support of, or even opposition to, a brand. Well-established brands are paying attention to their consumers, especially in the digital sphere, and rightfully so. Every brand knows that their customer is king.

McDonald’s, Simplistic and Modern Crowd Culture

For example, McDonalds’ recently teamed up with a design agency to redesign and craft a new global packaging system. One that would appeal to the simplistic and modern tastes of today’s consumers. Their launch received widespread critical acclaim, with many praising the minimalistic yet impactful designs.

Yet we cannot forget how the same crowd of people criticised their brand logo back in March 2020. When the pandemic arrived, McDonald’s redesigned their iconic logo in which their golden arches were separated to represent social distancing. However, they received fierce backlash and criticism from consumers on social media, who claimed that the brand was putting on a front without genuinely contributing to the fight against COVID-19.

McDonald's, Simplistic and Modern Crowd Culture

McDonald’s was quick to withdraw the controversial logo, even sharing a statement with the New York Post that said: “As a brand that operates in nearly 120 countries, we share a collective responsibility to help our communities in times of need. We apologise for any misunderstanding of the intent to remind our customers and communities of the importance of social distancing during these uncertain times.”

This example underscores the impact that crowd culture has on branding. Businesses that push content without understanding their audience and ensuring that their content is sensitive are at the risk of getting ‘cancelled’ online, which can harm the brand.

How Do You Use Crowd Culture in Branding?

The average consumer is exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day, with brands clamouring to be heard. How then, do you ensure that your brand stands out and connects with its target audience, genuinely and emotionally?

Well, the best way to do so is to intertwine crowd culture in your brand system. Rather than waste your money on the marketing dollar, here’s a better idea. Why not form a genuine connection with your target audience, and have them promote your brand for you?

Aim to strike an emotional chord with your target audience when activating your brand. By doing so, your brand will form a genuine emotional connection with your target audience. Resulting in an unshakeable bond that cannot be broken once it has been formed. It’s always easier said than done, however, and very few brands truly succeed.

Wendy’s, the Authentic Crowd Culture Angle

One good example of a brand that pays attention to crowd culture and executes its brand system well is Wendy’s.

Their main angle is authenticity – which is something that the younger generation appreciates greatly. In fact, their authenticity comes with a bite of audacity. In which they’re unafraid to roast other brands and sometimes, even their customers.

Wendy's, the Authentic Crowd Culture Angle

Of course, not all brands are able to emulate their style of brand communication. However, Wendy’s is a good example of a brand that pays attention to its target audience – the younger, digital crowd – and exactly how to appeal to their set target audience.

All jokes aside, Wendy’s also ensures that their customer touchpoints are taken care of. They never leave a complaint unanswered. This reassures its customers and cements Wendy’s as a brand that genuinely cares for its audience.

How then, do you ensure that your brand incorporates crowd culture within her system? Here are three quick tips for your brand to try out.

Have a Purpose That Consumers Can Align With

Does your brand have a purpose?

Most brands do, but the most common mistake is having one that consumers cannot align themselves with. Many brands have the words “leading”, “top”, and “number one” thrown in their brand purpose somewhere. This leads us to the question – how relatable is it for their consumers?

Consider making your purpose one that is anchored around your consumers. This way, they can relate to and support your brand on a more genuine level.

Airbnb, Customer-centricity Crowd Culture

For example, Airbnb’s vision is centred heavily around its clientele. Without a doubt, this is because of their unique services. Airbnb has a symbiotic relationship with its customers where one cannot exist without the other.

This is why their vision, “Belong Anywhere”, perfectly sums up their service to their target audience in two mere words – understated, yet all-encompassing. From this, you can see how their brand is customer-centric. A portion of their website is dedicated to sharing stories from their customers. Their “Stories from the Airbnb Community” page demonstrates that the implementation of their brand system actually actively supports their purpose.

Walking the Talk – How NOT to Crowd Culture

This brings us to our next point. While a brand may have a system that can connect with its target audience by having a higher purpose that is relatable, they need to live and breathe that purpose, rather than fake it. The chances of getting caught are tremendously high, and the consequences are terribly negative.

crowd culture walking the talk

Trust, once broken, is extremely difficult to build back. Once a brand name has a negative connotation, it is difficult for them to recover. In 2015, Volkswagen was caught lying about their diesel cars regarding carbon emissions. This was a practice they’d been doing for the past seven years to mislead their customers seeking a cleaner, more environmentally friendly vehicle.

Larger brands may have the capacity to iron out such kinks if they are caught lying. However, smaller brands don’t have this capability, which is why it always pays to be honest and genuine all the time instead.

Change is the Only Constant

Lastly, the behaviours, needs and wants of consumers are always in flux. Brands must be flexible and flow with change or risk losing the interest of their consumers. To always engage their interest and keep them emotionally invested in your brand, continuously re-understand your target audience and adapt accordingly to their behaviour as well.

Change is the Only Constant

Change isn’t risky – stagnancy is.

Yet with constant change and adaption, brands must always remember that consistency is key. Although change is important, when looked at as a whole, your brand must always make sense. Pick an image or personality of your brand and stick to it for future marketing executions. Your consumers will be able to remember you easier then.

Easier Said Than Done

With all that’s been said and done, we know that executing a brand system intertwined with crowd culture is more difficult than it seems. Would you like to learn more about how to do so?

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Enterprise Singapore has increased the cost defrayed for each branding project from 70% to 80%. Now would be a good time to seize the chance and relook into your company’s brand system. Now is the time to grow your brand, even amidst a pandemic.

We would love to help your brand reach greater heights by engaging your current target audience and attracting new ones. For a complimentary, no-obligations, brand audit, contact us today.

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