Culture Mapping and Archetypal Strategies

Culture is a story system. The challenges facing brands today require a social science approach to analyzing culture and applying actions in sync with the natural cycle of power and dissent.

We can see the results of shortsighted and top-surface approaches to cultural insight imploding around us. From greenwashing in the midst of a climate “permacrisis”, to the commercial laziness of relying on celebrity influencers for relevance that quickly devolves into toxic hate speech.

Culture matters. But our strategies do not reflect that. They reflect more of an idea of what we can copy from culture to help our strategy in the near term. Our strategies must understand the responsibility we have to the culture we are all part of to stop the nihilistic path we are currently on.

My students at Parsons School of Design – The New School are in the midst of learning how to apply a story-system approach to innovation over the next few weeks. I share the concept of Culture Mapping that builds on Raymond William’s RDE (Residual, Dominant, Emergent) framework. The objective is to develop actions rooted in existing cultural intelligence, from the strongest signals to those weaker signals that have important future relevance.