History and Culture – A Potent Tool for Brands

I have often wondered what it takes to be a great brand manager. The variety of skills needed as a management student pretty much sums up the dynamic needs of the corporate world

But getting caught up in the rat race and a micro focus on aptitude, quantum and  theoretical skills results in a void when it comes to branding. We cannot deny the importance of analytical ability but it cannot be overstated.

Here is where knowledge of History places you in a different league all together. In my own personal experience, active interest in History, symbolism and a passion for archaeology during my younger days helps me look at brands in a different perspective.

History, being perceived as a boring subject which is more of a result of uninspiring teachers rather than the content, can act as an amazing bridge between good brands and great brands.

Brands which follow a  lackadaisical approach towards knowing their market end up in a major disaster. One of the friends pointed out the case of Coke’s ‘disaster’ ad in Saudi where they failed to notice that they read from right to left!!

Street Marketing – Close your strategy books and get your butt down the street !

Knowledge of history and culture of the country/region in which you operate gives you the edge in terms of marketing insights and creating new brands.

But the market is alive, it is dynamic and ever changing. That is the most beautiful challenge branding and marketing poses all of us.

History and culture can be read and learnt to an extent but there is nothing like walking down the streets and getting a feel of the culture first hand.

My mentor once told how important it is for a marketer to read and travel. The more you read and travel new vistas open up and ideas start flowing. A dynamic market needs a dynamic mind, forever observing and absorbing.

Unique Cultures – The Ottoman Trait of Bargaining

An example for different cultures which presents different challenges would be the art of bargaining in the streets of Istanbul.

Istanbul’s markets are fascinating wherein the art of bargaining while drinking coffee is a matter of pride for the shopkeepers who treat instant buyers with disdain.

Bargaining is a drawn out affair with ambient shops. The shopkeeper offers you hot piping Turkish coffee or Raki ( a Turkish delicacy) which signals the beginning of the bargain duel. He quotes his price and you quote yours and so on.

If you do not understand this culture and history of Turkish markets as a marketer or consumer, you are most likely to have forgettable turkish adventure 🙂

Author: Aditya Raghavan

aditya raghavan An alumni of IFIM B-School, Aditya is a Brand professional with a wide  array of interests which include History and Spanish football. He is  also an avid Pianist.


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