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How to harness the power of ‘cuteness’ in PR

Credit: Michael Lamb, strategist, M&C Saatchi Talk.

In an era where cultural phenomena like Hello Kitty mark five decades of success with grand exhibitions, the enduring and timely allure of cuteness is undeniable. Whether your brand naturally exudes cuteness or not, the influence of endearing elements such as meerkats and playful humour in building market-leading brands is unmistakable.

Beyond the realm of stuffed animals, it's essential to recognise that cuteness wields significant psychological influence. It has the power to evoke nurturing instincts and elicit positive emotions, transcending existing attitudes and behaviours.

Cute control

Cuteness is more than a mere aesthetic; it triggers deep-seated human emotions and behaviours. Social scientists suggest that cuteness stimulates our inherent caregiving instincts, allowing it to circumvent our rational thinking. This explains our attraction to cute entities, regardless of their practical value.

The modern concept of cuteness is deeply rooted in Japan's Kawaii culture, a post-war aesthetic that defied conformity and fostered emotional engagement. Sanrio's Hello Kitty in the 1970s marked the global spread of Kawaii, mirroring the rise of manga and anime.

Universal language

Today, cuteness's power lies in its capacity to elicit positive emotions and foster connections, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers. It has become a universal language that resonates globally.

Moreover, cuteness has permeated modern life through various channels, including emojis, memes, games, and AI assistants. The surge in emoji usage during the pandemic underscores the pivotal role of non-verbal communication in digital spaces.

Be different

So, as marketers navigate a saturated landscape, how could you stand out if your competitors also embrace cute culture?

The key lies in understanding the motivations of your audience and the communities that influence them. By crafting innovative and shareable narratives that resonate emotionally and by seeking out unique collaborations to infuse cute cultural relevance and newsworthiness, your brand can spark organic discussions and drive engagement.

Be playful

Also, a playful brand voice can humanise a product or service, fostering meaningful connections with consumers who crave participatory experiences. Strategic playfulness can pave the way for co-created content, enhancing brand affinity through interactivity, and embracing an ethos of curiosity and experimentation can unlock creativity that delights and captivates audiences.

By initiating conversations around cuteness, sharing compelling stories, and engaging in collaborative efforts, brands can infuse their identity with the universal language of cute culture. This approach not only differentiates them in a crowded market but also resonates deeply with an audience seeking positivity and connection.

Uplifting influence

It's also crucial for brands to realise that the potential of cute culture extends far beyond the surface. As we approach the fourth anniversary of Covid-19, a period marked by fear and sorrow, perhaps the world - and marketers - need the uplifting influence of cute culture more than ever.

So, as PR directors, chief marketing officers, and marketers navigate the ever-evolving landscape of brand strategy, it’s worth considering embracing cute culture. It’s not just a trend; it can be a strategic imperative.

It’s time to tap into the power of cuteness to forge authentic connections and drive engagement, brands can position themselves at the forefront of cultural relevance and consumer affinity.

Written by Michael Lamb, earned strategist at PR firm M&C Saatchi Talk.

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