Summary of Cultural Strategy

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Cultural Strategy book summary


8 Overall

8 Applicability

9 Innovation

7 Style


Most branding experts belong to the “better mousetrap” school – an innovation-driven model that says success follows technological advances that improve product function. Most brands fight to win consumer mindshare around an established set of benefits. This approach doesn’t explain how “me-too” brands come to dominate markets. Starbucks, Marlboro, Ben & Jerry’s and Vitaminwater are blockbuster brands that offered nothing new, but their fresh marketing resonated with consumer ideology. This is the backbone of the “Cultural Strategy” model from brand experts Douglas Holt and Douglas Cameron, though those with a cursory interest might find it the dense, information-packed text hard to read cover to cover. getAbstract recommends their thorough, fascinating case studies and idea-based tactics to those who’ve grown tired of the functional-innovation viewpoint and would like to try using cultural intelligence instead.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the downside to “better-mousetrap” thinking is,
  • How “cultural innovation” creates blockbuster brands,
  • What tenets support the “Cultural Strategy” model and
  • How to deploy your cultural strategy to disrupt markets.

About the Authors

University of Oxford professor Douglas Holt wrote the bestseller How Brands Become Icons. He and branding specialist Douglas Cameron are co-principals of the Cultural Strategy Group.



A “Better Mousetrap” Mindset
When marketers promote function-driven innovations, the idea driving their tactics is: “Build a better mousetrap and the world will take notice.” This notion leads companies into “benefit slugfests,” particularly in the mature markets known as “red oceans,” ...

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