Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast


For most brands to win in the marketplace, they put together a plan that is also referred to as strategy. There is business strategy, that is. the overall formulation of a plan to enable an organization to achieve its long-term objectives but also there is marketing strategy, which is a roadmap of how the brand or company is to win in the marketplace.

A combination of planning around what the marketing goal is, what product to offer, where or how to sell the product, at what price the product is to be sold, the route to market, how to promote the product and what the brand should be saying per time that will endear it to the target consumers. All these and more make up a good marketing strategy for a brand to survive.

However, no matter how “good” your strategy is, ensure you are not swimming against the tide of CULTURE.

Culture is the way of life of a set of people. Their beliefs, ideas, sentiments, their religion, their customs, their food and so on. Culture is not fads or trends, a fad or trends can fade away anywhere between 1-5 years or more, it goes away quickly.

Culture is hard and stubborn, IT DOES NOT go away quickly. Sometimes it takes 100 years, 200 years or even more. Culture is the reason why you can tell a Nigerian professor, that is educated abroad and so understands osmosis and evaporation, that he should URINATE SOMEWHERE, HERBALIST NEED SAMPLES and he would never dare to do so in Africa. This is because he has it ingrained in him that juju is real and he has heard stories for ages. In fact, he has witches in his village, he dares not do it.

No matter how sound your strategy is, PLEASE don’t clash or swim against the people’s culture, it’s hard and you can rarely win.

That is the very case of the #ResumeOrResign Protest recently held at the Wuse market in Abuja where there was a clash and all.

I am not condemning the #ResumeOrResign protest but taking it to Wuse market, northern part of Nigeria is a wrong move. Even if you try it in USA and you are taking the fight for “white priviledges” in a protest, to an area of Chicago concentrated with blacks, you are starting something you cannot complete because you will most likely incite the black people that you are protesting in front of.

This applies a lot to your brand in the marketplace. The name you give your brand can mean something entirely different to people in another culture which will in turn affect your sales because your target audience may not receive it well. Even your logo can incite a group of people and all your strategy, which you spent millions to do or months to put together is gone in the air.

Ensure you always align with the customs, beliefs, way of life of the people you are trying to target, not only because you are trying to suck up but also because it is an easy way for you to get your product to buy into their sentiments and spend far less on marketing.

If red is a taboo, don’t use RED. If your target audience loves to mix things, or want things fast, you better try to create a product that is pre-mixed or that can fit into their culture or at least a variation. This is why I wonder why a very popular powdered chocolate drink brand cannot come up with a variation that is mixed with milk or something similar, but who am I to tell them what to do if they cannot see it.

That is why we came up with the name ALAT for Wema bank’s digital bank. It’s not just a name, it is a little buy-in into the aspirational, success-driven and bragging culture of a young African. There is more to this though, but that’s for another day.

Just take this home, do your strategy but test or align it with culture and have one less trouble to deal with.

CULTURE eats STRATEGY for breakfast!

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