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Technology The Culture Stack
Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Brands need to bridge the gap between technology and culture to keep pace with change. The internet has changed everything about how people live their lives—and how brands market things to them. What we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg. The emergence of AI will hit us like a tsunami in the coming years. The Culture Stack is the toolkit marketers will need to activate their data and penetrate culture.

There are really big changes happening right now. They are going to completely transform the way brands connect with people—and how marketers build those connections.

  • Persistent uncertainty in the Age of WTF makes being nimble a prerequisite. COVID lockdown is over, but it’s clear that the Age of WTF is upon us. We don’t know if the next thing to disrupt global economies and human lives will be borne of political strife, extreme weather, bankrupt banks or martians landing in New Jersey, but we know there will be a next thing. That uncertainty is something we need to contend with.
  • Scarcity of talent will become a challenge for every organization in the years ahead. “The Future of Work” has already begun. Not only is there a shortage of talent to do all the things, that talent has completely different expectations of what a “workplace” should be. Flexibility will not be optional for companies in the years ahead.
  • Performance marketing has become more expensive and less reliable. Direct response has gotten harder due to Apple’s IDFA changes, Meta’s pullback on targeting, and the impending Cookie Apocalypse. This has marketers seeking to build deeper emotional relationships with brands.
  • However, the evolution of media has made it harder to build a brand. There has been an evaporation of mass market television and print media in recent years. New channels like streaming video and Retail Media Networks have emerged, but they are hopelessly fragmented and erode profits.
  • Emerging tech like GenAI and Blockchain are disrupting everything. It is not hyperbole to state that every job on the planet could be impacted. Futureproofing our brands is not an option.

How can your brand get traction?

Brands need to deliver experiences people love at the speed people live.

We believe that the formula for turning disruption into competitive advantage and sustainable growth is to bring together two forces: Technology + Culture. We believe it so much, we’ve restructured our entire business to provide the necessary capabilities to unleash their power.

Technology is critical because (essentially) all media is digital today.

Brands need the data and mar-tech in place to provide customers with a personalized one-to-one experience.

Your customer spends most of their day with their nose glued to their phone, pausing only to lift and shift their eyes to another screen. They use those screens to watch, communicate, shop, date, work, play, create, exercise, meditate, identify plants in their garden, change the temperature of their BBQ, and seven billion other things.

Brands need to unlock the power of data to be part of this journey. Technology is the key.

But opening the door is not enough. You need to be seen.

Culture ensures your brand doesn’t just count impressions—it makes them.

It’s the science of human social behavior and culture associated with everyday life. Knowing how your brand can fit into their lives only comes after you understand what’s going on in their lives.

Studies show the average person encounters thousands of brands per day. The vast majority of them are not remembered. But I’ll bet everyone reading this can remember an ad that you saw once, but remembered the rest of your life. Why?

The most powerful messages, ideas and experiences are the ones that penetrate culture and confront hidden truths.

In years past, brand and performance were treated as distinct silos. That approach is dead. There is one omnichannel journey that marketers need to deliver on. Technology + Culture are the tools to do it.

How the Culture Stack helps you break through.

Traction helps you bridge the gap between technology + culture with a portfolio of capabilities we call the Culture Stack.

Our talent collective spans the entire delivery chain between your brand and your customer:

  • Branding & Positioning
  • Creative Content Development
  • Experience & Product Design
  • Marketing Infrastructure
  • Omni-channel Distribution
  • Publicity & Social Media
  • Measurement & Analytics

More important than the capabilities, however, is how they are applied. There are four approaches that help you unlock the power of the Culture Stack.

Liquid workforce, Design Thinking, Culture Lensing, Applied Foresight

1. The Liquid Workforce

Our Liquid Workforce of remote, fractional talent allows us to bring world-class experts to deliver this breadth of services—without the overhead of an agency. This really allows us to identify the perfect people with industry and subject matter expertise from our 275+ member collective to pull together a superteam to address your unique needs.

2. Design Thinking

We use design thinking to identify the messages, channels, data and infrastructure you need to drive growth. It’s an iterative, empathy-based approach to problem solving. Building a foundation to your marketing capability based on knowledge and understanding of your customer’s journey is critical to ensuring you have the right goals in place and the right strategies to achieve them.

3. Culture Lensing

Our culture lensing approach helps you develop advertising, content and experiences to tell your story through a lens of culture. It is all about listening to culture and combining it with insights about psychology and behavior, and letting that drive work that penetrates the culture. We apply culture lensing to how we develop marketing and innovation—across Context, Content, Creativity & Customer Experience.

4. Applied Foresight

As technology accelerates, we help you accelerate with it. History repeats itself. Just like with the earlier iterations of the web, those who don't adapt to new technologies like Generative AI and Web3 will suffer the same fate as the companies and industries that have been disrupted in the past. The winners will be the leaders that futureproof their brands.

The Futureproof Project can ensure that you are one of them. The project is an invitation-only community we curate of over 100 marketers from important brands that meet regularly to build bridges, share learnings and gain insight from the experience of one another and top experts in the space. This goes beyond thought leadership—it is action leadership. Members tap into the power of applied foresight to transform innovation into competitive advantage.

The burning need for marketing acceleration.

The biggest impact that persistent uncertainty has on marketers is the need to be nimble. Budgets could be slashed—or skyrocket—at a moment’s notice. Projections can, and likely will, go out the window. That’s a big reason 82% of brands now have an in-house team and 88% have seen their workload increase over the past year.

But every in-house team has its own unique challenges, restraints, and frankly, opportunities to do things smarter. 78% of brand leaders say capability building is very important to them, but only 5% say they have the capabilities they need. Just as no agency can be great at all things, no internal agency can either.

Traction accelerates your marketing. We meet you where you are with an in-house disposition to lend our marketing expertise and production know-how to solving your most pressing challenges.

From our companies to our customers, the world is changing fast for marketers. Brands with traction are the ones that will run faster.

About the author
Adam Kleinberg

Adam Kleinberg is CEO and and a founding partner of Traction. He has written over 75 articles in publications like AdAge, Adweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable and Digiday.

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