Crayola received the same cultural resonance score with Gen Z as it did with the broader population but other brands resonated with that generation more than Crayola, Colditz said. Marvel and YouTube, meanwhile, were in the top one-third of brands among the total adult population.
The most resonant brands across both Gen Z and all adults, the report found, share three common factors: “high recognition; distinction among their most loyal consumer base; [and] success in driving engagement beyond shopping.” The report pointed to Amazon Prime Day as an extreme example of a brand accruing cultural resonance by transforming the event “from a set of discounts to a holiday that has reshaped the shopping calendar.”
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The Marketing Arm did not disclose rankings of brands outside of the top five overall and the top five among Gen Z, but did highlight the highest-scoring brands in each of the four components of the cultural resonance formula.
Disney, for example, dominated the recognition category, while Target climbed above other brands in advocacy. Brands that didn’t make the overall top five, including Chick-fil-A, Levi’s and M&M’s, also popped up on these lists, which indicates that brands can still resonate with consumers in one area even if they aren’t able to achieve overall cultural prominence. (The Marketing Arm’s Platinum Rye Entertainment unit has procured celebrities for Amazon and M&M’s.)
Each of the four pillars of cultural resonance The Marketing Arm identified is also tied to different marketing strategies, Schank said. Recognition is directly linked to brand storytelling—“how are you going to get people to truly understand what your brand stands for?”—while alliance involves “putting your brand into places that the consumer already has a passion for” through strategies such as product placement or influencer partnerships, he said. Brands can boost engagement through experiential marketing tactics, whether in-person or through digital experiences such as Roblox activations, he added.
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Ultimately, consistency in a brand’s identity and marketing, not just jumping onto online trends or pop culture moments, is essential to achieving cultural resonance, Colditz said.
“Even if you aren’t a customer of one of these brands, you do know what they stand for, and they don’t waver from that,” she said of the top-scoring brands.