The Fragility of Brands in a Culturally Blind Society
By George L. San Jose
We all have grown up in a rapidly changing world, and many times we heard our parents speak about “the way it used to be.” We call that progress. The digital era has brought instant ways for us to communicate visually, share opinions via text, emails, tweets, blogs… Everyone has the ability to become a publisher of their own thoughts, and affinity groups have the means to organize overnight. Just think about it… we have become global tribes, able to share our likes and dislikes with people all around the world… instantaneously.
The power of communication and persuasion has shifted from a select few to the masses and the masses are not as homogeneous… as they once were. Okay, so most of us know this— indulge me and I’ll make it play out. Once not long ago, three major networks fed our nation homogeneous viewpoints—they taught us how to behave, how to think, and what to buy. Today there are hundreds of channels for us to learn how to behave, what to think… well you get the idea. Communication proliferation in content and channel preference is already the old reality.
Now, let’s talk about what is not so apparent underneath the surface of these communications revolution there has been as equally important development. The major demographic and psychographic shifts that are now the proliferated voices… of the new faces and minds of America.
Just look at the number of presidential candidates who postulated to run in 2016 and you will not find a number as high lest you go back 100 years… when people lived in ethnically segregated neighborhoods. Nothing illustrates this better than the movie Gangs of New York. History does have a way of repeating itself in ways we cannot even imagine. I’m not suggesting that we are gangs; rather, I’m merely using the analogy to illustrate one point: there are as many groups with different opinions and likes as there are people. The only difference is that we no longer have to live in the same neighborhood to have a unified way to express it.
The communication revolution has set the stage for our fragmented Polycultural society to have a voice and influence. Made up of affinity groups with common interests and separated across the lines of education, socioeconomics, likes, dislikes, age, etc. Many refer to these times as unpredictable, but perhaps history will write this as the advent of unprecedented political, economic and social changes globally… or will they call it the renascence of the dark ages II?
With this as a backdrop, I would like to bring all this to the now and future. Have our leaders become out of touch and pace with the rest of society? We all have witnessed examples over the past 12 months (without calling out names and countries) of superbly great leaders of major corporations and governments making major blunders because they suffered from the echochamber syndrome of “Cultural Blindness.” Showcasing that in today’s instantaneous communications world, the consequences are immediate and sometimes catastrophic.
So I ask the audience, why is this? Are we living in uncertain times? Have we lost our ability to strategize, predict, and forecast or do we suffer from Cultural Blindness? Would love to hear your thoughts. I’ll share everyone’s thoughts, including my own, and will continue writing part two in the next couple of weeks.