By Marcela Jenney
How does personal branding “translate” around the globe in other cultures?
This column will discuss various aspects of cross-cultural branding that should be considered as we develop our brand across cultures and in diverse environments. Topics will include language, communication styles, social interactions, traditions, rituals, aesthetics preferences and value systems.
How Culture Plays an Important Role in Global Marketing
When it comes to branding yourself to a domestic market, your ability to connect with your target audience is greatly enhanced by sharing a common language and culture with them. Conversely, branding to markets beyond your borders is another story and presents a unique set of linguistic and cultural challenges that must be addressed and overcome.
Lost in Translation
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to cross-cultural personal branding success is a lack of understanding of how people communicate in other cultures. In fact, one of the most common assumptions is that a straight translation of marketing, advertising and public relations materials are enough to conform to the unique needs and values of diverse cultures and ethnic groups. In reality, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Incorrect or poor translations of marketing material are among the most frequent and costly mistakes made by ‘solopreneurs’ attempting to penetrate foreign markets.
When in Rome…
In cross-cultural marketing, language is a crucial tool for communicating with customers, suppliers, channel intermediaries and others. You can learn a great deal about another culture simply by studying its language and non-verbal communication, which includes gestures, touching and other forms of body-language that supplement spoken communication.
Familiarity Breeds Content
Regardless of the culture at hand, your target audience makes its buying decisions based upon how they ‘feel’ about you. It is only when you fully understand how people communicate in other cultures beyond your borders that you’ll be in a position to establish and maintain an enduring ‘emotional connection’ with them. So take the extra time to familiarize yourself with the language and culture of your target market, and reap the rewards of unprecedented brand acceptance, recognition and loyalty for many years to come. You’ll be glad you did!
Marcela Jenney is an international entrepreneurial marketing expert, business coach and consultant with over 20 years of experience. She partners with language service providers as well as professionals from culturally diverse backgrounds.