Hegemony and domination in the life of brands

Feb 25, 2020, 607 views

In the first decades of the last century, the journalist, intellectual and leader of the Italian Communist Party Antonio Gramsci produced one of the most powerful works of socialist thought. Under Mussolini, he was imprisoned for 11 years, dying in a clinic two years later. It was in prison that he developed his conceptualization on cultural hegemony. And it was in Professor Francisco Weffort's class at the University of São Paulo that I came into contact with Gramsci's thinking.

The notion of hegemony that is opposed to that of domination by imposition of force, of whatever nature it is, is linked to the adoption of an idea, a belief, a choice we make, but in a consensual way.

Do you know those things that you never forget throughout various stages of life, in different academic stages, professionals, and family and social relationships? Yeah, in my life, this is one of them. I always think it's stupid to punch a knife. Why, instead, not resort to more efficient, longer lasting and less violent ways of achieving the conquest of allies as a result of affinities?

It's time to land and remember why I want to talk about Branding. That is why I come to the end of this long preamble: hegemony is what fuels and justifies the leadership and involvement that many brands exert, or the consent to be attracted to them.

Hegemony is a movement of domination. But it generates consensual behavior. We do what we do because we feel internally persuaded that it is the best, the most appropriate, what makes us happier, at peace with our conscience.

One of the richest aspects of this concept in Branding is the relationship between hegemony and communication. On the one hand, we know how much communication is a sine qua non resource for developing it. On the other hand, pressure of any kind of media, per se, is the equivalent of "military imposition." Domination by hegemony is different: it is a conquest of consciousness by the internalization of values, which, in the limit, almost eliminates external pressure. The brands that enjoy cultural hegemony depend, proportionally, less on communication investments in general. How many Apple commercials do you remember seeing in life?

As in other spheres of cultural, political, social, business and branding, hegemony also generates contingents of "ambassadors." They are those in which the hegemonic culture penetrated more deeply.

Auditing brands 25 years ago, we found strong evidence of this. We structured the audit into five levels of a pyramid, according to the level of consumer involvement. Of the least for the most involved: ignorance, rejection, familiarity, preference and idealization. The latter, the highest of the pyramid, is what concentrates people who have absolute certainty that the brand is unquestionably their natural choice. In over a thousand brands we have audited, the top of the pyramid concentrates, on average, 10% of consumers. More importantly, there are a number of cases where these 10% of people account for more than 40% or 50% of the brand's turnover. These are the people in whom the hegemonic culture of the brand has penetrated and taken root more deeply.

The creation of a hegemonic brand culture is not an overnight operation, but a thousand and one nights. From a deep understanding of the most intimate feelings that surround the soul of consumers. And it is not easy to find out, after all consumers say what they think, but they do what they feel.

Perhaps the greatest prize of owning hegemonic brands is not their marketing results, but the supreme commitment to respect the intelligence and dignity of consumers, of people.

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