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Cultural Strategy

Cultural values, beliefs and behaviours are what inspire us, mould us and determine our decisions. In today’s fast-moving and fragmented media landscape, they’re subject to rapid, and sometimes bewildering, change. While this is complex, we believe that Cultural Strategy doesn’t need to be. It’s all about finding your people and understanding what shapes them.

Through trend analysis, semiotics, experts & digital scanning, we identify the cultures people live in to better understand them and their influence. We apply this to your brands to help create meaning, build engagement and navigate change. Because culturally meaningful brands are powerful brands, and brands that last.


How can Firefish help?

Cultural positionings

Cultural Positionings

We map the cultural and category landscape to find a home for your brand identity that is distinct, resonant and culturally meaningful.

Cultural briefings

Cultural Briefings

Get up to speed on the shifts, tensions and narratives shaping an audience or category culture, to help you launch new products or campaigns with cultural clout.

Cultural trackers

Cultural Trackers

With culture changing rapidly, these ongoing reports follow change as it happens, helping you build cultural fluency into your activations and communications.

Cultural segmentations

Cultural Segmentations

Building on primary qual & quant, get a colourful guide to your audience’s cultural worlds – identifying spaces, faces and values that inspire & shape them.

Cultural futures

Cultural Futures

Using experts & forecasting skills, we map cultural change today, identifying opportunities tomorrow for innovation & inspiring longer-term brand strategy.

What & How?

Trends analysis

Tracking signals to get a view on fast moving trends, we find patterns in culture and identify the drivers of change, forecasting their trajectories into the future.


Studying signs & symbols in culture, we identify shared meanings that define group cultures, categories and brands through language and image, unlocking the values shaping the cultural & commercial landscape.

Expert and leading-edge insight

From anthropologists, to tech journalists to community leaders, experts (whether academic or influencer) deliver a helicopter view of change in their culture and how it’s changing.

Digital Scanning

Leveraging audience, brand, keyword & conversational insight from AI and social listening, we determine sentiments and emotions, tracking emergent and dominant themes to understand how they play out by demographic.

We are always innovating. Want to talk about other ways we can help?

family watching TV


Identifying future opportunities in entertainment

“What’s the future of entertainment?” – a big question that needed a clear, strategic answer. Blending digital diaries, in-home depths across the US, expert interviews and academic immersion exploring existing psychological & sociological theories of entertainment, we developed a framework that would be used by our client to identify opportunities across their content verticals; past, present and future. 

This comprehensive model of human needs – consisting of people’s actions, interactions, and larger entertainment repertoires – was defined from learning about how people navigate and prioritise the modern (and vast) entertainment landscape. Supported by an engaging film, we ran workshops to put it in to action across the various business units and teams, delivering instant impact across brand, communications, commissioning, licensing and more.

exterior of a modern house at sunset


What does Security mean?

Our home security client came to us with a problem: they knew their smart locks were incredibly popular but didn’t know why. We sought to unpick how and why they came to be so popular in this market, so they could share the learnings across their EU and MENA teams.

Working with our local cultural partners, we explored the forces at play that might be accelerating the growth of the smart locks category. Using a STEEP framework, we looked at the key drivers of acceptance to unpick the cultural meanings at play, delivering a framework that decoded local understanding of security across a range of markets, as well as guidelines to focus on for future category growth and expansion.

person infront of mcdonald's


Going from Good to Great, globally 

McDonald’s came to us to help them go from a ‘good’ to ‘great’ coffee experience for their McCafé brand around the world. Across 10 countries all at different stages in both coffee culture and in their business situation, we took a triangulated approach to answering the question, layering a deep-dive into coffee culture onto the human experience and the current business situation.

Blending semiotics and trendscaping, experts, creative online community exercises and treks, IDIs, brand discussions and client workshops, it culminated in a set of global guidelines – as well as a set of local solutions – for McCafé to offer a more meaningful coffee moment, through product making and consistency, brand communications, and overall product and place experience. Read more.

luxurious bathroom


Unpacking modern luxury culture, globally

After huge societal changes post-pandemic, our cultural strategy team helped our global aviation client examine previously identified trends in the context of the shifts in luxury culture. Diving deeper into each shift, we selected the trends that would have the greatest impact for the company, and the people they serve, highlighting the emerging signals driving each trend across APAC and Europe.

We delivered a series of strategic insights and thought starters to tap into these trends whilst being cognisant of cultural nuances, as well as a number of creative routes to take into further exploration.

people cooking at home together


Developing the recipe for authenticity

With no universally recognised definition of authenticity in culture – only subjective and inconsistent interpretation – we sought to ‘tame’ this highly complex topic, making the intangible tangible, and simplifying the concept into a globally relevant meme, that would pervade all elements of the Knorr business, eliminating the need for guesswork and eradicating inconsistency. 

Through a mix of cultural insight, expert interviews, and primary research ethnographic research across global markets, we provided a universal, company-approved definition of authenticity in food that has led to greater confidence, consistency and accuracy across all areas of decision making. We also delivered an “authenticity compass” to help assess all future brand and comms activity and won Unilever’s Most Transformational Insight award.

woman holding mug and smiling


Creating a recipe for success

Being relatively new to the market, our European tea client needed to clarify what their brand stood for, both in the marketplace and across the broader portfolio. We worked in close collaboration with the brand team to develop a number of unique and motivating brand platforms to test.

Our in-house semioticians were on-hand throughout the project, developing rich visual stimulus to pull apart the different routes, and offering guidance for future comms, pack design and innovation. We left the brand team with a set of clear strategic guidelines, to distinguish their brand internally and externally, as well as a number of creative routes to take into further exploration.

a jar of jif peanut butter


Award-winning communications

Jif’s creative agency, Publicis’ PSONE, had an idea rooted in a timely, cultural debate between old vs new hip hop fans that would extend Jif’s That Jifin’ Good positioning, and came to us to validate and inform what would become ‘The Lil Jif Project’. 

We went deep with dedicated rap fans to ensure the message was respectful and authentic, while delivering key guidelines and guardrails to steer the creative, ensuring strong appeal, relevance and brand fit for rap & non-rap fans alike, with iterative creative testing huddles along the way. The result: Jif’s highest category share in 10 years, significant lift in social voice share, and attracting a younger audience. We also won the ARF David Ogilvy Awards Gold & Grand Ogilvy for it in 2022.


Our Centres of Excellence

Focused on our intricate understanding of how insight, strategy &

execution work together across the planning cycle.

Want to talk Cultural Strategy?







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