A brand culture is the values that a brand espouses. It is what a brand stands for. Brands are just like human beings. They have a persona. This is why they are so important in social media marketing. A recent survey stated that 97% of all sold products are done through the recommendations of friends. To have an effective brand, a customer and a brand have to become personal friends with each other. A critical part in a human’s development is their creation of a personal value system.

This is the function of a brand culture. A brand must stand for SOMETHING if a brand is to stand OUT. Brand culture is a very technical term. Perhaps the best way to explain is through illustration. A great example of brand culture is the movie, “A Few Good Men.”

This movie is about the reconciliation between a brand identity and a brand culture. To have a world class brand both have to be well-defined. I don’t think you can have without the other. To have a brand you have to define who you are, which the identity stage. After you have defined the identity stage, you have to define why you are like that, which is the brand culture stage. In very simple terms, you have to answer two questions to create a brand. You have to answer a WHAT question and you have to answer a WHY question to create a brand.

In very simple terms, the brand identity of the U.S. Marines is that they are honorable people who obey their orders. In the movie, which is about 2 Marines, on trial for murder, the counsel for the two Marines establishes that the defendants acted honorably and obeyed their orders. They are convicted because their actions contradicted the Marine brand culture. In the dialogue of the movie, it is established that the Marine brand culture is that Marines are to uphold the weak. This is the WHAT question? Marines have honor because they obey orders. This is their brand identity. The WHY question? The reason why Marines have honor is that they are to protect the weak.

The acting and the court room dialogue between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson is riveting and it makes the movie a classic. I watched the movie, originally, in a packed theater. When Jack Nicholson’s character confesses to the crime, everyone in the theater seemed to relax. Then the verdict was read. The defendants were found guilty. Many people in the audience gasped in surprise. Why were these marines found guilty? Until I started studying brand identity and brand image, I have always been perplexed by the verdict.

Marines and brands have two things in common. To be effective each must have an identity and a culture. If either of these is not present, both a marine and a brand will fail. As the dialogue progressed, it was established that the Marines were guilty because they did not uphold the Marine brand culture which is that marines are to uphold the weak. They allowed a fellow a marine to die because they didn’t support that Marine and protect him from his weakness. The two marines understood their identity, but failed in their mission to full-fill their brand culture. To be successful, both marines and brands have to do both.