Issue No. 23
— September 2016

The Culture

Digital trend publication
blending a mix of culture,
insights and data.

A trend product by





It's all a bit hard to define. Artists perform secret shows and resurrect pop-up shops. That's culture. Twitter users twist a joke a thousand different ways and new slang is born. That's culture. Everything said during the election cycle. That's culture. You get my point. 


To me this is why we dubbed Matte Black a Culture-Marketing Agency. Culture isn't a few specific categories but rather is constantly formed as a concept by anything that is able to steal people's attention for just a moment. Culture isn't static or limited. It changes every time our attention is stolen to something new. 


So it isn't so much a question of how does one get in a place to interact with culture, but rather, how would you like to change the culture?




Contributing Editor




Editor's Letter


"In a fear-based, failure-averse culture, people will consciously or unconsciously avoid rise. They will seek to instead repeat something safe that's been good enough in the past. Their work will be derivative, not innovative. But if you can foster a positive understanding of failure, the opposite will happen."

- Ed catmull, Pixar




Dig into the issue by clicking on the links below!



1. Three steps to defining and taking part in brand culture ✱

Company culture and social culture are more connected than they seem, especially when it comes to marketing. Matte Black's very own Director of Strategy + Culture breaks down what it means for a brand to be culturally connected.

— Micah Heykoop



2. What my internship at facebook taught me about company culture

Facebook is no doubt one of the most relevant companies in today's culture. Not only is it used as a platform by over 1 billion people, but it employees around 13,000. So how does a company of this size foster it's company culture? We heard from one of their interns (who also happens to be a former Matte Black intern, woop!).

— Nadia Fallahi



3. Hip hop, influence, and Automobiles

Influencer partnerships are a key element to modern-day culture marketing. What was once seen as a new advertising platform for fashion and beauty brands, the world of influencers has quickly found it's place in almost every industry, even automotives. 

— Jordan Wheeler


4. Kristen Noel Crawley

This jewelry designer, beauty editor, art collector, entrepreneur and mom is the definition of "cool." Kristen took time out of her busy schedule (we know she's bust because we follow her on Snapchat) to chat with us about how she got her start in the industry, where she draws inspiration from, and life as a working mom.



11. Trueey

You really learn a lot about people when they share their opinions, anonymously. Trueey is a polling app that allows users to anonymously submit and vote on simple "Agree or Disagree" questions, kind of like the Tinder for opinions. We worked with Trueey to pull some of the most interesting facts that we learned about today's culture for this exclusive feature in the Shape Shift Report.


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"Part of maintaining a thriving creative culture is giving people time and permission to play."

- Tim brown


✱ No Login Required



Three steps to defining and taking part in culture as a brand

By Micah Heykoop


Doing something that touches culture is the golden standard for brands. You want people to look at what you are doing and not only remember it, but also talk about it "behind your back" so to speak. I find myself always pausing when I use the word "culture" in meetings though. It falls a bit too far to the buzzword category now, but even worse than that I think everyone has their own definition of it that changes how they perceive what you just said. In general I think their are two ways in which people normally mean it:


Company Culture: Do you have dogs and mini-golf at your office? What about catered lunch everyday? In general when people refer to a companies culture they use it as a blanket term for what type of perks you have, how people feel about each other, and how you can act around the workplace. 


Social Culture: Anything that gets someone to stop, take notice, and file away what you are doing to reference in the future in conversations of their own. If I see something from a brand that I am going to bring up later in larger discussions - to me that is a sign of something that is effective because I was able to reconcile it with my worldview. 


It may not be right to lump these together under one definition, but I do think that these two types of culture relate to each other much more than we notice at times.


My good friend Paul Wolcott is a Partner at the company Great Place to Work. They are a global authority on what it takes to build amazing company cultures. He once gave me the best definition I had heard of what we mean when we say company culture. It consists of three things:

  • You have passion for the work you do.
  • You have camaraderie with your coworkers.
  • You trust the people who lead you.


This seemed like such a succinct way not only to define what it truly means to have a company culture, but also shed light very clearly on the fact that perks fade but the way you interact with information and people is most important. 


Let's look at the other side of the coin now: culture in marketing. To me, moments and marketing that can be seen as cultural are those that not only draw on references you have stored away and current events, but also build directly on top of them. If you were to define it in the same three steps as company culture, it would look something like this:

  • You relate to what is happening and understand it.
  • You feel like you can share it with friends or others you meet.
  • What you are seeing helps you further define who it came from.


Defining Culture:

Things that we define as "culture" are the things that affect how we relate to one another and the world around us. I want to be taught somethings, I want to draw my own conclusions and connections, I want to be able to relay it on. Think about it this way: anything that can be categorized under culture is a bit like a lego brick. It has to be able to connect to something existing, and have space to be further built upon later. I don't care it we are talking company culture or culture marketing.


Let's finish off by melding out three step lists together in an attempt to define how we produce things that can be seen as cultural-marketing. The piece of content, activation, marketing, company outing, new process, etc, has to:

  • Be understood be and affect or relate to you personally.
  • Give you the opportunity to use it to relate to others in a new way. 
  • Teach you something about or further help define its source. 


If you can pass these filters with what you are doing, you are making something meaningful. It can be all the way up at the campaign level, down on individual content calendars, or even just an internal happening for your team - no matter the size you are able to touch and affect culture. Synthesis opposites. Get people talking.

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NIKE vs. Under armour

Under Armour's Olympic athlete wears Nike on the cover of Sports Illustrated. 

Read more ➭


shame on you, ryan

Speedo and Ralph Lauren end sponsorships with Ryan Lochte after Rio scandal.
Read more ➭


millennials actually like to work?

To everyone's surprise, millennials are actually workaholics.

Read more ➭





Pinterest launches video ads

Pinterest is looking to compete with YouTube and Facebook for video ad budgets.

Read more ➭


The instagram difference

Instagram Stories diverges from Snapchat by suggesting who to follow. 

Read more 


only $10 was spent on this brilliant campaign

Venmo involuntary turned into a charity app.

Read more ➭





The tesla revolution

The electric car company is changing the way we buy cars.

Read more ➭


Google inbox get an update

Adds Trello, GitHub and Alerts integrations.
Read more ➭


NYT Puts VR to use.

Read about how the New York Times is using Virtual Reality to tell stories.

Read more ➭





president obama's summer playlist

Is lit.

Read more ➭



Duolingo's new app says a lot about our obsessions.
Read more ➭



Read more ➭





sicilian food as pantone

Designers showcase the beauty of Italian food.

Read more ➭


Designer's Block is a real thing

Become a better designer by designing less.
Read more ➭


Chanel's collages

Karl Lagerfeld takes a new approach to the brand's advertisements.

Read more ➭

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Chelsea Matthews


Managing Editor
Delanie Billman


Contributing Editor
Micah Heykoop


Creative Direction
Nolan Goff


Art Direction + Design
Jesse Ligo


Nicole Best


Aria Davis



Jordan Wheeler

Jordan Wheeler currently leads strategic initiatives at Skurt - the Los Angeles-based mobility company that delivers cars on-demand. Previously, Jordan spent two years on the marketing team at Uber, effectively spreading brand awareness through partnerships and promotions with influencers in the music and entertainment industry. Notable projects at Uber included influencers such as G-Eazy, Jhené Aiko, Wiz Khalifa, and Yes Julz; ranging from fan-experience promotions to live events, scaling globally from the US to Switzerland and Germany.

Most inspiring city: New York

Streaming on Netflix: Narcos

Last purchase: Sanders Chelsea Boots

Favorite Instagrammer: Jamil Davis - @Jamiliooo


Nadia Fallahi

Former Matte Black intern Nadia Fallahi is an incoming content strategist at Facebook, who is also completing her senior year at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Nadia also has her own website, Matcha Had Me, where she shares a little bit of the things she loves. You can always find Nadia either scrolling endlessly through Instagram, anxiously awaiting the new Lady Gaga album, feverishly building Spotify playlists or eagerly researching strong brand strategies, all while trying to get some homework done.

Last song played: “Self Control" by Frank ocean or "No Class" by Yellow Claw

Spirit animal: Lady Gaga, obviously

Guilty pleasure: "RuPaul's Drag Race" hands down
Most inspiring city: Los Angeles, no other city is as romantic nor motivating

Night in or night out: Night out! I'll sleep when I'm dead! (or maybe just Sunday-Tuesday)



Micah Heykoop

Micah Heykoop has trouble writing about himself in the third person. He is the Director of Strategy + Culture at Matte Black meaning that he works with all clients to find ways to make them achieve their highest potential. He just landed his first kickflip and is open to sponsorships should your skate team need someone to drive the van.


Last movie watched: I kid you not, it was Face Off staring Nic Cage and John Travolta. If you haven't seen it yet, smash that Netflix button. Funniest movie I have seen in a minute.
Go-to pizza toppings: Pepperoni / red onion / green pepper / Cherry tomatoes (I'm looking at your Pieology) 
Crime to commit: Inciting a riot. Because that's the hood rat stuff we all want to do with our friends.
Instagram or Snapchat?: Instagram. Specially Boomerangs on Instagram.
Childhood hero: Nomar Garciaparra from the Boston Redsox. I wanted to hit like him. 

Kristen Noel Crawley

Chicago-born Kristen Noel Crawley is a beauty columnist, designer, founder of fine-jewelry brand KDIA and most recently KNC Beauty, a collection of all-natural lip masks (and soon to be other products). Kristen's work can be found in Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and more. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. Follow her on Instagram @KristenNoelCrawley and on Snapchat @TheKNC.


Guilty pleasure: Peanut butter chocolate cups
Binge watching: Will & Grace
Last song played: Needed Me by Rihanna
Most inspiring city: Tokyo 



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