Now Available: Duly Noted by Jorge Arango

Decoding Culture: A Lens for Research Breakthroughs with Neil Barrie

In the latest episode of the Rosenfeld Review, Lou sits down with Neil Barrie, the co-founder and CEO of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, to delve into the intriguing intersection of brand building, culture, and user experience research. Neil, an outsider in the realm of user research, brings a fresh perspective from the world of brand research; you can hear more from him at the Advancing Research 2024 conference in New York City, March 25-26.

Neil emphasizes the need for researchers to adopt a cultural lens when designing product experiences. Drawing from his extensive experience working with influential brands like Airbnb, Bumble, Headspace, and others, Neil suggests that by understanding and leveraging wider cultural factors, researchers can break free from the incremental nature of product development and create more memorable, distinctive, and influential brands.

The conversation touches upon the “wind tunnel effect,” where products and services, much like cars in the 90s, risk becoming efficient but less distinctive. Neil argues that by paying attention to cultural factors and experiences, researchers can uncover breakthroughs that go beyond the interchangeable norms of the industry.

Neil’s insights highlight the transformative potential of cultural understanding in user research, offering researchers a valuable lens to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of product experiences.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The importance of adopting a cultural lens in user research to achieve breakthroughs
  • The concept of the “wind tunnel effect” and its impact on product development
  • Examples from brands like Pinterest, showcasing the power of cultural understanding in shaping user experiences
  • The dialogue mapping technique for evaluating how brands communicate certain themes and how people perceive them

Quick Reference Guide:

[0:11] – Lou’s introduction of Neil Barrie
[3:03] – A discussion on the wind tunnel effect in research
[4:24] – Frameworks for understanding culture
[5:41] – Examples from Pinterest
[11:29] – Plug for Advancing Research 2024
[13:23] – The tools of a brand strategy expert
[17:18] – One challenge, multiple perspectives
[19:29] – Reconciling disconnects in research
[22:00] – The qualities needed for this type of research
[24:13] – Neil’s gift for the audience

Resources and Links from Today’s Episode:
Advancing Research 2024, New York City, March 25-27, 2024
A Colorful View From the Top – a book featuring candid interviews with luminaries of color who made it to the top in various fields.
The Deluge by Stephen Markley