A Culturematic Approach to Employer Branding

Boredom + Heat + Cervezas (Por favor!) sometimes leads to something new and unexpected, yet surprisingly intriguing. During my holiday last week, I managed to devour three books. One on entrepreneurship. One on human behaviour. Also, one on an experimental branding approach (Culturematics). Something that inspired me to look at my work from a new angle. In my summer boredom, I found the energetic 66-year-old Anthropologist, Grant McCracken on the syllabus for my Consumer Behaviour course on my upcoming Master’s Programme. I saw a Youtube-clip with the man, and stumbled across his book: “Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football, Burning Man, the Ford Fiesta Movement, Rube Goldberg, NFL Films, Wordle, Two and a Half Men, a 10,000-Year Symphony, and ROFLCom Memes Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas”. Yeah. That is the actual title of the book.

“A Culturematic is a little machine for making culture. It is designed to do three things: test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value.” – Grant McCracken

The main idea of this book is to present small experiments that in a playful and counter-intuitive way, broaches a kind of what if. What if our core message what looked like this? What if our core message sounded like this? Small experiments that in their pure randomness, really just tests what is out there in the world to see what comes back as interpreted versions of itself. Little engagements that end up discovering the new cultural meaning. Cultural meaning, which we did not know existed while doing our regular business.

“The point is to do it. And to try it. And it’s to do it and to try it even when the thing is counter-intuitive and looks like noise in the system. Anybody who’s the product of a good professional education has a kind of noise detector. And we learn to respect that sometimes almost intuitive gift for saying, this is a good idea. And this is a bad idea.” – Grant McCracken

In a dynamic economy, what we want to do is discover new domains. New markets. New categories that nobody else knows exists. The opportunity to capture value before competition comes. You get a commodity effect that compresses the premiums people can charge. Culturematics discovers blue oceans. I thought, what if we eventually implemented the Culturematic principles in our work with our employer branding? What if we encourage our clients to tell new and stories about themselves? What if they eventually discovered new ways of conveying themselves? Culturematics creates authenticity Culturematics tells funny stories and creates culture by doing it. It keeps up with the ways of interacting brands annum 2017.

“After all, we’re in the throes of a revolution in branding. The basic philosophical underpinnings of the field are changing. The old brand was as immaculate, manipulated, and humorless as anything ever produced by a Soviet politician. The new philosophy says that brands must be roomy, self-aware, happy to be part of the conversation, even if this means taking a little satirical heat.” – Grant McCracken

Today’s brands are learning to give up the control of regularity to take on vibrancy. To take on varies ways of telling stories and engaging the audience. And the Youngsters (YoungConsult, 2017) love it. Believe me, we do. Our Social Media feed is all about the “carefully managed chaos”, that – sorted by intelligent algorithms – entertains us with memes, funny cat videos and unexpected ads blended in between, in a beautiful, random way. Also, with giving of the thumb, we judge what is interesting enough to survive and what is not.

“It creates sense of anticipation. (“What will happen?”) And serendipity. (“What could happen?”) And adventure. (“This should be great!”) Most of all, it delivers a warm current of randomness. Our life is unpredictable. But not “Oh, my God, the sky is falling” unpredictable. No, this is carefully managed chaos. Just enough.” – Grant McCracken

In the second industrial revolution, the vast objective for every company was to increase efficacy through standardisation. The enemy of consumer (and employee) satisfaction was unexpected randomness. A company just needed to work on the design, engineering, and production until every outcome was alike. However, this refers to another world from today. Culturematics is the anti-standardising way of doing branding. A very pro-youngster way of creating meaningful aspirations. We are ungrateful and expect the unexpected every time we browse our social media feed. However, the point is not to give us exactly what we want. Your job is not to read our minds. We do not get to choose. We just want authenticity.

A Culturematic Approach to Employer Branding

Joe & The Juice – What if we cast our potential employees at a party?

Currently experiencing explosive growth, the Danish juice-bar Joe & The Juice is a perfect example of a Culturematic. The company seems to hire only fresh, young guys and promotes a very bro culture. A proud,

Currently experiencing explosive growth, the Danish juice-bar Joe & The Juice is a perfect example of a Culturematic. The company seems to hire only fresh, young guys and promotes a very bro culture. A proud,

“This is not just a job, this is a culture of brotherhood. You want to fight for your team. So choose your attitude.” – Joe & The Juice

The Juice chain has dropped the traditional job conversations and instead arranges popular castings, where youngsters queues to attend casting for a job at Joe & The Juice. It is all about showing that you are a cool guy. A cool way to break with the seriousness in recruiting. Controversial – I guess? Fun – no doubt! Odd, yet remembered.

Heineken – What if we recruited our candidates online?

I like this one. So, cool and fun! Heineken created a new and interactive way of recruiting with “Go Places,”. In a musical video, Heineken is inviting talents to respond to 12 questions based on the Enneagram model, which results give you a personal profile. The video features actual Heineken employees, giving a playful and authentic touch, and makes the interview process feel quick and surprisingly fun. Play with the site here. The story behind “Go Places” is nuanced, told by the real adventures of Heineken employees. You get the feeling that the Heineken Company is one of a kind, and the interview is just a fun gig. Going through the questions, you feel the humour, the energy and enthusiasm of the employees. You will either think, I love this company or This is not for me. The culturematic aspect is to create an experiment, which either entertains – or create new ways of interpreting Heineken as a company. A new (and legitimate) way of telling the story and engaging the audience when recruiting.


Culturematics is not necessarily big, expensive digital platforms, with the purpose of creating a loud message, cinematically experiences. Culturematics are small experiments that either create a few “That was weird” and then dies, or returns as the remarkable story of the day, discussed by the people. The point is to do it and to try it even when the thing is counter-intuitive and looks like noise in the system. Trying new medias, angles and voices. When the system catches the idea, it will eventually get in order with the notion “That is the way they are doing business, and I admire them for their boldness to doing so.”


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