Build your brand: Cultural clues

Partymintslge I walked into a client’s boardroom to make a presentation.  The room looked like many other boardrooms, but there was one thing that immediately caught my eye.

They had party mints on the table.

I’m not telling you the industry, location, brand or any other detail about this client.  But…close your eyes and imagine what kind of a business would consciously choose to put out party mints.

Party mints are not good or bad.  But they are a cultural clue.

We leave cultural clues everywhere we go.  Think about your office décor.  Your office location.  Or a typical meeting.  Or your voicemail/e-mail signature.  All places that cultural clues hide. Or can be purposefully hidden.

At MMG on our conference room table, you’ll find freshly baked M&M cookies, with MMG logo colored M&Ms.  No accident.

What clues would I see if I came to do business with you?  Are they accidental or is it part of your brand plan?

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7 comments on “Build your brand: Cultural clues

  1. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    When you would enter our showroom you would see a ‘cluster’ of comfy clog-style slippers (we are Dutch after all ;-)) and no matter if you would buy something from us there and then you will leave with a brand new key-ring: a pair of wooden white clogs with our company name – in our company colours – on them. (And everyone tells us “they are soooo cute!”)

    Dutch and clogs: a stigma or a ‘clever’ relation between how the Dutch are known for the straightforwardness and entrepreneurial spirit? Here in the UK it seems to be the overall thought 😉

    (The idea for the clogs started over a year ago when we were trying to find a special gift for our clients during our 5th Anniversary year – this year
    – and our good friend Richard C pointed us towards the very obvious ;-))

    We’re almost out of comfy clog style slippers, but the key-rings will definitely stay with us as marketing ‘clue’!

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  2. This post really has me thinking. I think another cultural clue can be the copy on your website. When it’s witty, relaxed, or just plain well written I think it really helps your brand standout and communicates good things about your company.

  3. Karin,

    Isn’t it fascinating that being Dutch can be your brand simply because you’re in a different country? I love the clogs idea. How else do you weave the attributes of being Dutch through your store and customer interactions?


  4. Brett,

    Excellent point. Any aspect of our marketing, our physical location, our customer service — cultural clues can exist anywhere.

    But the copy (in essence your voice) is without a doubt one of the places we need to be mindful of. And in today’s world, your web copy should probably be one of the first places you look for (or carefully place) cultural clues.


  5. Karin H. says:

    Morning Drew

    In our home country wooden flooring is a mature market, so being Dutch in a country where this type of floor-covering is ‘just’ starting shows we have more experience in all matters related than most UK retailers in this trade – or at least, that’s what our clients tell us.
    Plus, most know people/friend in The Netherlands – worked there, lived there, have Dutch colleagues and the overall impression that a Dutch man’s word can be relied on.

    Besides that most of our products come straight from Dutch (small) manufacturers and are perceived – rightly so – as being of higher quality 😉

    We never set out to ‘profit’ from this specifically, but when you notice these things – why not take ‘advantage’ of it? Our word can be relied on, that’s for sure – according to many of the feedback forms our clients return to us.

    Karin H.

  6. Dr. Wright,

    I respectfully disagree. Having some sort of a mint on the table would be a nice gesture. Going out of your way to always have party mints (which aren’t that easy to find) is a conscious choice that speaks volumes about this business.


  7. Karin,

    Smart branding…coming from a mix of the truth and your truth.

    That’s why it works!


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