We are a global strategic cultural intelligence
consultancy powered by meaning.
We are helping brands and organisations adapt to the changing cultural context of the 21st century to bridge the meaning & value disconnects between what brands do and what people actually value.
Understanding how the codes of culture impact people's values, beliefs, needs and behaviours helps brands unlock new value, create relevance, improve meaningfulness and drive meaningful growth.
Today's world is changing fast. Cultural irrelevance and value fragmentation are the biggest reasons why brands struggle to grow and retain their value these days. Meaning is what encapsulates value. It is the inner symbolic quality of all things around us, be it brand transactions or human relationships. With meaning and cultural relevance at the core, brands can become resonant and valuable again.
Meaning.Global was founded in 2017 as a direct reaction to the ongoing crisis of meaning across the industry, caused by the unprecedented level of change and increasing rates of global cultural complexity and technological disruption. Our aim is to help brands and organisations understand the destabilising foundations of the world we live in and equip leaders with the hidden knowledge of culture to culture-proof their strategies and inform more effective brand and business decisions.
We advise brand and business leaders on how to stay relevant, meaningful and profitable amidst global culture change. We explore the changing nature of big concepts of our time, such as diversity, gender, identity, trust, equality, loyalty, luxury, consumption or post-truth to understand how today's context reshapes the meaning of brands. We study how cultural shifts in society affect the value of brands and discover new and previously unseen opportunities for future growth.
Meaning is quickly becoming the most valuable currency of the 21st century. We have an abundance of data, but we lack sense. We lack perspective. Therefore, what we need isn’t more data, but more intelligence to interpret the data we already have in a larger cultural and social context. Context is where the real value is – it's not in the data, it's outside of the data looking in.
We see brands and businesses as the living dynamic ecosystems of cultural meaning. Brands are all about meaning. They are in the business of meaning exchange. People value meaning. We don’t buy brands; we buy what they represent. We consume what they mean to us: their personal relevance.
The 21st-century economy is the economy of meaning. Managing value today undoubtedly means managing the meaning of brands. So, starting 2020, lead with meaning. Brands that will take charge and learn how to control their own symbolic meaning will become the masters of their future destiny.
Welcome to Meaning.Global: The Next Generation Of Strategy.
THE FUTURE OF LUXURY: A GLOBAL INSIGHT STUDY
What does the fast-changing cultural meaning of luxury
mean for the future of traditional and heritage brands?
The Luxury Report looks at the five biggest cultural shifts redefining the global luxury landscape today and offers five strategic actions to create new value and relevance for the new generation of consumers.
The face of global luxury has changed beyond recognition. Luxury brands are facing a lot of new challenges and are struggling to accept this redefined global reality as the new normal.
Cultural irrelevance is one of the key reasons why global brands struggle to retain their value today. This is especially important for luxury and heritage brands as their value is tied to their symbolic and cultural value. When meaning structures get destabilised, brand value gets eroded which causes volatility.
All is not lost, however, but winning the cultural battle means gaining a new type of knowledge. Understanding how the cultural shifts and macrotrends affect brands and business is key for brands to remain relevant and profitable.
To help luxury brands revitalise, restore their sense of value and regain cultural relevance, we need to redefine what the very essence of luxury means to people today to match our needs and expectations in the 21st century.
THE MEANING GAP:
WHAT IS IT AND HOW TO OVERCOME IT?
Global brands today suffer from many ailments today, but perhaps the biggest one where most value gets lost has to do with the meaning gap. This is a symbolic trap that makes things look right on the surface (as a form) but doesn’t realmake sense on the inside (as a substance).
Why Global Brands Fall
Into The Meaning Gap
Why do global brands keep falling into the meaning gap and repeat the same mistakes?
The answer is simple: for their lack of symbolic coherence.
Mental disconnects occur when the meaning intended isn't the same one that you communicate, when your intentions don't reflect the reality, when your brand ideas don't reflect their form of execution or when the brand's values don't correspond with the brand's real-world behaviours and the role it plays in culture and society.
The four biggest gaps happening in most brands and organisations today are:
The Culture Gap (What brands/companies say versus their relevance and resonance in culture and society)
The Context Gap (What brands intend to say versus what they’re actually communicating in a real-world context)
The Trust Gap (What brands/companies say versus what they do and how they behave in the world)
The Social Impact Gap (What role brands/companies aspire to versus their real-world impact and credibility)
All these disconnects have one common denominator: the erosion of meaning.
When basic meaning structures are fragmented, it influences the brand’s relevance, trustworthiness, ability to create long-term value, emotional bonds with people and positively impact social change. To overcome these gaps, brands must become the champions of symbolic coherence and embrace their meaning to spark value from the inside out.
To learn more about these meaning gaps and how to prevent them, read the Branding Strategy Insider article below.
WE CAN HELP YOU CLOSE THE MEANING GAP
ONCE AND FOR ALL. THIS IS HOW:
We will help you navigate the invisible patterns of meaning at your brand and business to bridge
The Culture Gap, The Context Gap, The Trust Gap and The Social Impact Gap to restore value, integrity, cultural relevance and promote meaningfulness across all your touchpoints.
Explore how the shifting symbolic
meanings in culture and society
impact your brand & business to
create cultural relevance
Find out if your brand really says
what you wanted to communicate
to maximise clarity & effectiveness
Lead with meaning to drive
brand value from the inside out
& stimulate long-term growth
SPEAKING & WORKSHOPS
Educate and inspire your teams,
colleagues and audiences with a talk
on the art and science of creating
meaning in your brand & business
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MEANING IN BUSINESS?
These are some of our latest published articles, opinion pieces, interviews, podcasts and workshops on the role of meaning and cultural relevance in branding, marketing and business strategy. They deal with meaning from multiple perspectives: from value creation and brand growth, creative ideas, brand strategy, campaigns, storytelling and design to shifts in culture and the need to explore how brands and technology reshape our society to humanise businesses and nudge social change.
Meet The Person Behind
Martina's work has been featured in:
Founder & CEO
Dr. Martina Olbertova is a leading expert on brand meaning and cultural relevance around the globe. She is a global brand + cultural strategist, semiotician and social scientist on a mission to redefine the role of meaning in business. As a writer, speaker and cultural consultant, she educates brand and business leaders on how to be more culturally savvy and lead with meaning at the core.
Martina navigates the quickly shifting symbolic meanings in the world around us today to help organisations profit from culture change. She works with brands across sectors to evolve or redefine their meaning, reconnect their essence, and create cultural relevance and social currency to boost brand value and equity. Her goal is to bridge the meaning disconnect between brands, culture and society to restore meaningfulness, trust, integrity and long-term growth and offset the ongoing crisis of meaning across the industry.
With 15 years of experience in the UK, Ireland, USA and Czechia, Martina has had a chance to work on diverse strategy, insight and innovation briefs for global brands, such as Kantar, Unilever, Vodafone, IBM, London Gatwick, British Land, ICAEW, KBC, Visa, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Ireland, J&J, Heineken or Pernod Ricard.
She holds a doctorate in Media Studies from the Charles University in Prague and also studied at Georgetown University (USA) and University of Glamorgan (UK). As a visiting lecturer, she taught Semiotics and Cultural Branding at universities in Czechia and Trinity College Dublin and spoke at conferences in London, Paris, Manila, Toronto, Shanghai, Prague, Berlin, Slovenia, Istanbul and Morocco.
Martina is a contributor to Branding Strategy Insider, Forbes, Luxury Daily, Luxury Society and author of The Luxury Report 2019 on Redefining The Future Meaning Of Luxury. She's also an adviser to The Core Code, a global think-tank on brand science, and a fellow of The RSA.
She is passionate about seeing the invisible layers of reality and tapping into unseen opportunities to unlock new value and meaningful growth, humanising businesses, social change, semiotics, anthropology, behavioural science and all things culture. She is based in Europe and available for strategic consulting, speaking and workshops worldwide.
What They've Said
Vice Chairman, Ogilvy Group UK
Co-founder, The Core Code
"An intellectual powerhouse."
Creator, This Human Business
"Martina is a rare person in business who is capable of seeing beyond the problems of
the moment to grasp the underlying thematic issues that have led to the development of those problems in the first place."
"An unapologetic breath of fresh air.
She is a legend or a rock star or a genius
or just a brilliant person doing great work.
Either way she's one of my favourites."
Co-founder, The Core Code
"A queen of corporate culture."
President, Golden Drum Festival
President, Abbott Research Canada
"A thought provoking clarity."
Publisher, Branding Strategy Insider
"One of the marketing leaders shaping a better world through brand."
"There are only two folks making me excited on semiotics: Robert Langdon and Martina Olbertova. Follow her, she's like the white rabbit in our era of data madness."