Culture and Branding


Jen Stoner

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Business & Public Administration


In UND's Winter Alumni Review, I made a case for why brands are important. Now I want to talk about why academic research is branding is vital. First, to reiterate what I wrote in the Alumni Review, brands are extremely influential and important. They are a valuable asset to companies and a powerful signal for consumers. Therefore, the more we understand them, the better informed both companies and consumers can be. Secondly, the world of brands is changing at breakneck speed. Tools like social media and "big data" are relatively new concepts that companies are scrambling to understand. Academic research is in a position to explore not only the immediate impacts of these tools but also long-term implications for the brand and society as a whole.

Another trend brand managers are currently facing is global mobility. People are moving around the globe more than ever before. How can brands understand the cultures that resonate with consumers when culture is becoming a more fluid identity? For example, many generations of my family have lived in Pennsylvania, and I strongly identify as Pennsylvanian. Why then when I moved to the Upper Midwest did I find myself drawn to Old Bay, a seafood seasoning from Maryland? My research has found that when consumers feel culturally distinct from their environment, they can spontaneously expand their definition of "home" in order to fulfill a desire to connect with their home culture. Unknowingly, when I saw the Old Bay package in a store, I began seeing my home less as Pennsylvania and more as the broader Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. This spontaneous expansion allowed me to connect with home by purchasing Old Bay. Understanding how consumers perceive their culture can help marketing managers gain insights valuable for formulating marketing strategy. My research findings highlight the importance of marketing managers understanding not only consumers with the same cultural heritage as their brand but also related cultural groups.

It is unclear what next big thing will turn marketing on its head. Regardless, academics, like myself, will eagerly dive in alongside practitioners to answers new marketing challenges arise.