Creating New Units of Culture

Stop using old rulers to measure new things

Most parts of the cultural landscape crawl forward, although they're always moving.

Country music has taken decades to change in its sounds and stories. The designs of our buildings evolve iteratively and over generations. Our spiritual relationship to nature, from the naturalist poetry of Thoreau to the nature-shaping ideology of Roosevelt, took nearly a century to evolve. 

Yet in some parts of culture things move too fast. We experience landslides that happen so quickly, we can lose our bearings.

Cultural borders that we thought fell in one place now, strangely, fall in another, and the way we measure the distance between our values requires an update.  

These spaces in which we are using old rulers to measure new things hold tremendous opportunity. They are the spaces with latent demand, waiting for someone or something to give us new units of measurement, so that we may experience a culture in the way we have been waiting to experience it.

New rulers always unlock value, and there has perhaps never been a period when so many of our rulers have been out of date at the same time:

  • Relationships are no longer just about "love", but about self-actualization.

  • Travel is no longer about leisure or belonging, but about emotional restoration.

  • Status is no longer just about ease, it's about sacrifice. 

  • Wellness is no longer just about health, it's about rebirth.

If your brand is in a space where old rulers are still being used, there is tremendous opportunity in teaching people a new way of measuring what matters to them.

It creates new language and new context. Most importantly, it has the potential to put your brand in a consideration set of one.

If we’re not measuring the right things anymore, that’s your brand’s opportunity to change the landscape.

Being a true strategist means cultivating a fearless mind. It requires the constant pursuit of knowledge, discovering the inputs that fuel our culture and behaviors, and grasping the forces that govern the future of markets.

When you’re engaged in all of those fronts, you get one huge advantage: The ability to bend reality toward your doorstep.

If you’re reading this and you know us at Concept Bureau, you probably already feel this in your bones, but you also probably don’t feel like you get the exposure and connection you need. 

If you did, you’d be unstoppable. 

What you need is Exposure Therapy.

Come join us.

A Full Life

Here's what we've been consuming.

Brands find a new way to reach many consumers: Older women (Washington Post): "“There’s still this sort of squeamishness about presenting older women and a belief that if you show older women engaging with the brand, that will put off the younger audience,” Cunningham said. However, that view is contradicted by Cunningham’s research, which has shown that younger audiences actually like older women: They’re curious about their lives, they’re looking to learn from them and they don’t find them off-putting."

How Group Chats Rule the World (New York Times Magazine): "That “thinking together,” pinging back and forth in real time, moving toward something nonspecific but nonetheless quite tangible — that’s the stuff of a group chat. There have always been backroom meetings among powerful media figures, but such things no longer happen in the proverbial smoke-filled room; they happen constantly and more diffusely... Sam Bankman-Fried had, according to The Australian Financial Review, a group chat called “Wirefraud.” He has denied this, but it’s funny how easy it is to imagine it being true: Where else would a group of tech people coordinate fraud but in the chat?"

Inside the trippy rise of dream tech, where lucid dreams are big business (Dazed): "Across pop culture, dreaming has long captured the public’s imagination for similar reasons through cult films like The Matrix and Inception, while Reddit community r/LucidDreaming has over 500,000 members. Lucid dreams are liminal, transitional, hallucinatory – and offer endless possibilities, which makes dream tech big business over in Silicon Valley."

Lethal Agency (Bones): "It’s OK, a legitimate individual choice, to hasten death simply because one’s life is complete... It’s about embracing life. It’s about flourishing and thriving with your life as it is now, and not being consumed with fear and worry. It enables you to move forward through the aches and pains of getting older more gracefully. To be happier. I really think it’s about life. It’s about life, not death. Living well, dying well."

Shoppers Prefer Staying Outdoors. That’s More Trouble for Malls (Wall Street Journal): "Visits to outdoor shopping centers have increased since the pandemic as the rise in remote work has given people the time and flexibility to run errands more frequently and closer to home. Outdoor shopping and strip centers also appeal to retailers who are increasingly allowing customers to pick up or return items bought online, CoStar’s Svec said. These shoppers want to get in and out of stores quickly, and not spend time navigating large parking garages or walking across the mall."

Put It All Together

Creative inspirations for the other side of your brain.

Two years ago I read about a study on career hot streaks that I loved so much, I still return to it every year. It instantly corrects my perspective and when you read it, you will understand where you are in the trajectory of your own growth, and when to shift.

Northwestern University economist Dashun Wang discovered something remarkable and provable in his research: people who experience hot streaks of phenomenal productivity typically experience a period of messy, wandering exploration right before

If you want to get to a point of rich, generative progress, you have to first indulge in getting very lost and confused.

First explore. Then exploit.

"The research suggests something fundamentally hopeful: that periods of failure can be periods of growth, but only if we understand when to shift our work from exploration to exploitation. 

If you look around you at this very moment, you will see people in your field who seem wayward and unfocused, and you might assume they’ll always be that way. You will also see people in your field who seem extremely focused and highly successful, and you might make the same assumption. 

But Wang’s paper asks us to consider the possibility that many of today’s wanderers are also tomorrow’s superstars, just a few months or years away from their own personal hot streak. Periods of exploration can be like winter farming; nothing is visibly growing, but a subterranean process is at work and will in time yield a bounty."

My hope is that my team and I at Concept Bureau are helping you plant the seeds.


Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau, Inc.